Episcopal Church deacon's life revolves around helping others

By Victoria Malmer
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Patricia Masterman loves helping people.

The suburban Lake Worth resident has diverse interests: touch healing, the Episcopal Church,American Indian teachings, and a pantry for the needy. Her job is public information specialist with the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

She's a deacon for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lake Worth, and she works with Integrity Palm Beach, which promotes inclusion of all sexual orientations in the life of the Episcopal Church.

All those things have one common element: helping people.

She grew up in West Virginia and moved to South Florida in 1971 with her then-husband, son Jonathan and daughter Kathi. She earned a bachelor's degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Her mother's family is part Cherokee, so Masterman always has been interested in American Indian traditions. She spent eight years learning spirituality, acceptance and language from Lakota teachers in Florida starting in 1988.

" It wasn't until I walked that path that I really began to understand the Christian Scriptures," Masterman said. "I've always been interested in other faiths. "

Masterman joined St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lake Worth in 1989. She was ordained as a deacon in 2001. "It's wonderful," she said. "It's amazing. I really feel I've been called to this work for many years. Being a deacon has brought great joy, peace and excitement into my life. "

As a church deacon, Masterman's duties include reading the Bible during church services and setting up the altar for Communion.

" Deacons are unpaid volunteers," Masterman said. "I see the job as building a bridge between the world and the church. "

She's helping plan a Celtic evening service for All Saint's Day or All Soul's Day on Oct. 29. Celtic traditions, including special candles and Celtic prayers, will be featured, and after the service, "soul cakes" will be served at a reception at the church. Historically, soul cakes were flat, round or oval cakes flavored with saffron or currants. People would beg for the cakes in return for a song or blessing (the origins of the trick-or-treat tradition).

Another part of that bridge she's building has been a women's Bible study group called WOLF (Women Offering Love and Faith). This year, they started a pantry of toiletries and hygiene items for the poor.

That started with a dream Masterman had. "I woke up at 3 a.m. and knew I wanted to start a pantry of toiletries for the homeless," she said. It was a perfect project for WOLF.

That led Masterman to wonder what other people of other faiths are doing for the needy. So about five months ago, she sent a letter to religious groups in Lake Worth, suggesting they all work together for the common good. Members of the Islamic community, Lake Worth Friends (Quakers), Calvary United Methodist, Baha'i, The Dharma Center and the Interfaith Collective answered her letter.

" Everybody's very excited and very committed to working together," she said.

That led to the creation of the Lake Worth Interfaith Network.

The group has had several meetings, and collected toiletries for Hurricane Katrina victims. Now they are planning a spaghetti supper (with vegetarian choices) from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at St. Andrew's, 100 N. Palmway, Lake Worth. The public is invited.

The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Proceeds go to the Red Cross for Katrina Victims.

LWIN also is holding a Thanksgiving service at 10 a.m. Nov. 24 at Calvary United Methodist Church.For information or tickets to either event, call St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at (561) 582-6609.

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