Another education committee member, the Rev. Charles Holt, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Lake Mary, in central Florida, said he was relieved and grateful that “none of the resolutions passed General Convention.
Had they passed, theoretically, “all one had to do to be an elected leader at the highest levels was to have taken communion three times over the course of last year” or be a communicant in good standing, he said. “Conceivably, they could not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal savior and be a leader in the Episcopal Church.”
The conversation about confirmation is essential and a healthy one because “it makes us recommit ourselves and come to clarity about our core beliefs and wrestle with our faith,” said Holt.
Holt also believes confirmation “is actually the one thing a bishop can do to help grow the Episcopal Church. In the Episcopal Church, it’s the bishop’s job to make sure that every single person who’s a member of our church has made a mature profession of faith in Jesus Christ” – a moment he believes every Christian should experience.
“If we do away with confirmation then we don’t have that moment for people,” he said.
Making confirmation a powerful and personal moment is of utmost importance for Bishop Dorsey Henderson, who retired from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina in 2009. He now assists on behalf of Bishop Gregory Brewer of Central Florida at confirmations.
Henderson confirmed about 18 people at St. Peter’s Church on May 17, including eighth grader Grant Williams, 13, who believes “confirmation is very necessary.
“It felt like I was coming closer to God, like I was getting to know him better and confirming my faith in him by showing that I truly believed in him and wanted to follow him,” he said.
Henderson said he adds the names of each confirmand to a personal notebook he has kept over 15 years of the episcopacy. “I assure them that I will pray for them regularly by name and I ask them for their prayers.”
While confirmation “is not essential to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion … it provides a kind of spiritual boost” especially to those baptized as infants and those converting from other traditions, he said during a recent telephone interview.
The Rev. Eric Turner of Central Florida spoke against the resolution, proposing an amendment that would eliminate the list in the non-discrimination canon, which includes “race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age.”
“We need to stop this process of adding a new minority every time one becomes vogue or politically correct,” Turner said.
The Rev. Charles Holt of Central Florida supported the amendment, saying adding more categories to the canon may be counter-productive.
“One thing I can say is that we are the most welcoming Christian organization on this planet. We do not disc-
The Rev. James Lewis of South Carolina
riminate against anyone,” Holt said. “Laying down the law to force someone not to discriminate will only harden hearts. The law doesn’t soften hearts. The only way to soften hearts is to speak the truth in love.”
The Rev. Canon James Lewis of South Carolina also opposed the resolution, saying he needed more clarity on the definition of “gender identity and expression.”
“Foundational institutions in the U.S. are under assault from the culture, further fragmenting the United States,” said Charles Holt, a rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and School in Lake Mary, Fla., who spoke in opposition of the move, seeing the liturgy in contradiction to the Book of Common Prayer, which defines marriage as between a man and woman. “To change liturgies would not find acceptance in the wider church and would be an affront to unity.”
The Diocese of Central Florida is committed to making disciples of all nations and loving one another as Christ loves us.
The Deputation from the Diocese of Central Florida has an extraordinary sense of sadness and disappointment that the Episcopal Church has chosen to adopt a provisional rite for same-sex blessings.
We recognize that to the vast majority of those members participating in the councils of General Convention, this represents progress. To us, it represents a step back from the clear teachings of Holy Scripture and a disregard for the unity and teaching of the Church.
Our Lord Jesus Christ emphasized marriage between a man and a woman as a divine ordinance for the ordering human relationships. For that reason, he sternly warned against human interference with marriages. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
The 77th General Convention’s decision represents denominationalism. In matters of ethics and morals, we have shown blatant disregard for the unity of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, we in the Diocese of Central Florida stand in solidarity with our communion partners within the Episcopal Church and within the Worldwide Anglican Communion who “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) . We deeply lament the costly repercussions that these decisions will have within the Episcopal Church and for Anglican Christians around the world especially those under anti-Christian totalitarian regime.
The actions of General Convention also represent a departure from the rubrics and worship of the Book of Common Prayer and the stated Canons of the Episcopal Church. These liturgies are not recognized in the Diocese of Central Florida as being consistent with either the laws of the State or the canons of this Church on Marriage. The Book of Common Prayer says, “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that … the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of this Church.” (p. 422)
While we are greatly saddened by the General Convention’s action, we are not discouraged. We know that we are called by God to “stand firm”. If any are discouraged, let us bear one another’s burdens and cast our cares on the Lord in prayer for one another. Our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord gives the strength and hope needed to serve without compromise within the Episcopal Church and the world, “for our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh”. (Ephesians 6:12) Our faith is not in the human institutions of the Church, but in the unwavering faithfulness of Jesus Christ our Lord—his grace is sufficient.
We stand behind our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Gregory Orrin Brewer, in his endorsement of the minority report known as the Indianapolis Statement.
Leaders in the denomination avoided attempts to change the definition of marriage as it would take significant efforts to change the Book of Common Prayer, which describes marriage as between a man and a woman.
“The debate over marriage is over technicalities, when we can call a spade a spade. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it’s a duck,” said Charles Holt, an evangelical rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and School in Lake Mary, Florida. Holt spoke against the proposal in Tuesday’s debate.
Holt described evangelicals who oppose same-sex rites but want to remain in the denomination like a similar kind of marriage.
“We want to have the spirit of Martin Luther, who wanted to reform the church from within,” he told CT, noting that Luther was eventually disciplined out of the Catholic Church. “We’re called to be faithful to the unfaithful and called to love those who would delight in our departure.”