“Just a note to express my appreciation for your hospitality, support, and company this past weekend. I came with no expectations, but have left a true believer, I’m grateful not only for the holy sacrament I received (which has already had some profound effects) but for your long work to make it available in the first place. I do think of myself now as a church member — please call on me if there’s anything I can ever do to help in any way.”
Dear Friends: Thursday, January 25, 2018
Forty years ago Rev Immanuel Pardeahtan Trujillo, Annie Zapf and I decided that we were going to establish the Peyote Way Church of God on 160 acres in the Aravaipa Valley of Southeastern Arizona. Trujillo, his wife, Jane, and co-workers had purchased the land in 1971 to serve as the home of the Church of Holy Light, a non-sectarian, non-denominational religious organization and the home of Mana Pottery.
When Annie and I arrived at the Church of Holy Light in October 1977 and met Rev Trujillo and his two young students, the land was in foreclosure, Jane and his former co-workers had left, and many bills were past due. We told Rev Trujillo, who, in those days, almost everyone called Mana, that we were looking to join or create a spiritual community. I told him, while kneeling across from him at a long table where he was painting unfired pottery, “I am looking for a boat to row as far away from ‘normal’ as possible.”
Later on, he told Annie and me that he had heard many promises, but very few had ever followed up their talk with the walk. Nevertheless, he took us on. He showed us the drying Peyote he had and prepared us for the first of many Spirit Walks. He then began to teach us the long process of producing and distributing Mana Pottery wholesale across the American Southwest. At Immanuel’s suggestion, we three signed and registered a Declaration of Intent to establish the Peyote Way Church and “Vows of Poverty” at the Graham County Recorder’s office, publicly declaring a life of selfless service to the church and the Holy Sacrament Peyote. Twenty years later we would jokingly call it the “Vow of Pottery.”
From 1978 to 1998, we three maintained and sustained the Peyote Way Church and paid off two mortgages at 10% interest, engaged in a nine year civil suit with the Federal government and the state of Texas (with the help of the ACLU) pursuing the religious right of all Americans to the religious use of the Holy Sacrament Peyote (Peyote Way Church of God vs. Smith, 556 F sup. 632 N.D. Tex 1983)
Immanuel went on an extended mission in 1984 and was away for 13 years, living in New York and Tucson where he worked among family and friends as a Church missionary. Annie and I built the Priory as a home for our family using personal funds, homeschooled two out of three of our “miracle” children (I had a vasectomy 2 months before arriving at the Church-seemed like a miracle to me!), published a quarterly Church newsletter from 1987-1997 called The Sacred Record, hosted hundreds of Spirit Walks for a $20 Annual Membership, and produced at least twenty tons of hand made, twice fired Mana Ceremonial Earthenware that we sold wholesale to gift shops, galleries, Goldwater’s Dept. Store, and the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in New York City.
By the end of the 1990’s we met several PhD’s who were conducting similar services using other sacred plants and substances in the city for at least $600 per session. This gave me a lot to consider. I had spent most of my time making and selling Mana Pottery, instructing beginners in Pottery and Peyote, and facilitating visitor Spirit Walks in exchange for food and a place to live while homeschooling our kids without a personal salary until 1988. Annie did not receive a salary until March 1998, but she answered the phone and mail, edited and published the Sacred Record and stewarded the gardens while homeschooling our children. That was when I convinced the Board of Stewards that if we didn’t value our time and services no one else would. As soon as we started suggesting a donation for the Spirit Walk the attitude towards us and our work, and the people who came to the church changed. We were stunned to notice that formerly we were treated rather badly by some visitors but now that we were valuing ourselves we suddenly found that the people who were making donations were happy to do it, very grateful, and very respectful.
Last year we trained and confirmed two Deacons, Luke Heidt and Jorge Camara. We completed and dedicated the “Mana” House, a 20’ X 36’ X 14’ sacramental greenhouse, and began planting Peyote in it on Solstice day June 22, 2017. During this time we also cleared the land of derelict vehicles and dangerous piles of old ranch fencing and wire. Deacon Luke Heidt and Rev Annie seeded six trays with over a thousand Peyote seeds collected from sacramental plants growing in the Grandchildren’s Greenhouse (built in 2005). The seedlings continue to flourish under the watchful care of Deacon Luke.
We want to assure everyone that President Matthew Kent and Rev Annie Zapf are in for the long haul. We may be at full retirement age in a year, but the only place we are going is next to Immanuel (6 feet under Church land). However, we could use some young blood (the next generations?) and your continued support.
Please renew your membership for $40 in honor of Peyote Way Church’s Fortieth Year anniversary. Donations of any amount will be gratefully received and are tax deductible.
May the Holy Spirit of Peyote bless you and your families.
In It’s service.
Rabbi Matthew S Kent. President
Your donations will help us:
Replace 60-year-old windows in the Congregation House
Buy 100 new planters for sacrament and steel pipe to build raised shelving in Mana House
Purchase Kubota tractor and attachments
Repair a mile of perimeter fence line surrounding Church property
A necessary goal is to achieve salaries approaching $20,000 annually for Clergy or graduate students. Matthew and Annie recently got raises to $1200 per month ($40 per day) from $700 per month.
Below is a code to PayPal where you can make your donation
“I took your advice, “don’t go into this expecting anything.” I thought after a couple of days leaving Arizona my life would go back the way it was. But I can say with certainty these past couple of months have been like a cloud has been lifted and I can allow myself to be happy, enjoy life again, love and be loved. We may have different beliefs but I believe Peyote to be a teacher that God created for men just like you and am glad it is protected under the First Amendment. Thank you for your advice and the hospitality from everyone. I sincerely can tell that you and Annie are there to help people and want the best for them. “
Please consider including the Peyote Way Church in your estate plans. One way that it can be done is to name the church as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy or CD.
From the Secretary/Counselor’s desk:
We conducted 240 Spirit Walks in 2017. We hosted four to eight individuals each weekend. A lot goes into preparing for a Spirit Walk, and it is really too much for two people. However, we do have a few helpers. David comes out from Tucson on Mondays and Tuesdays to help with maintenance, repairs and building projects. Luke Heidt is a Church Deacon who loves the Peyote, is interested in grafting and has started most of our Peyote seeds. He is a knowledgeable history buff, and knows a lot about Peyote Way Church history from Internet research. Last summer Deacon Jorge Camara was a big help to communicants and staff. He slept outside and stayed in the “Cat trailer” for two hot and wet months. Other folks come and go and offer services while they are here. So we are not entirely alone.
In 2016 we hired a neighbor to grade the greenhouse area for the new greenhouse called the “Mana” House. He also provided piles of dirt and sand for use as needed, and created a new latrine hole. We hired him again in 2017 for large clearing projects. It’s handy to have a neighbor with heavy equipment, but we are anxious to use our fundraising donations to purchase a tractor with backhoe and other attachments.
We hosted Immanuel’s compatriots from the Ching-a-Ling Nomads motorcycle club of Arizona, (he is recognized as a founding member of the Arizona chapter) and hope to continue the relationship with exchanges of work and Spirit Walks.
Here is a brief run down of our duties involving Spirit Walks. One of us spends at least an hour per communicant answering questions on the phone and by e-mail, setting up appointments and giving preparatory information. After arriving at the church property the communicants are given a tour of Spirit Walk areas and other church buildings with answers to questions and vignettes told by the guest or one of the tour guides. Once the Spirit Walk communicant has chosen their Spirit Walk area it is prepared by setting out firewood and chairs. The Counselor makes the sacramental tea and counseling is provided prior to and if desired after the Spirit Walk.
There are wood runs to get the firewood required for the Spirit Walks, requiring many days of cutting, splitting and hauling wood, with permission, from neighboring properties. The Congregation House is cleaned thoroughly before each weekend arrival of visitors and beds are stripped and remade with clean sheets after each visitor. Your donations help us make these things happen.
Rev Anne L Zapf, Apostle
“What took place that night was and still is so immense that I could not summon myself to get back to functioning “as usual” and have been acting much like a woman pregnant with a divine child, in the sense that there’s a treasure I’m carrying inside and I’m trying to tread lightly.”