Monday, December 8, 2008

C & C confusion

The following is part of the Canons of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania:

Canon I. Definition of terms
Section J) “Communicant In Good Standing” means a person whose Baptism has been recorded in this Church, who has received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year and who for the previous year has been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and has been faithful in working, praying and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God.

The way I read this is that only people baptised in TEC can be Communicants in Good Standing in the diocese. This means everyone else needs to be rebaptized.

How do you read this?


Paul said...

No, it means their Baptism, wherever and by whomever performed, needs to be recorded in a local Episcopal Church. Many Protestant churches issue a transfer letter when someone goes to another church and Episcopal churches do the same, one sending and one receiving. One may accept personal testimony of baptism. We recognize all baptism done with water in the name of the Trinity. I was baptized as a Baptist and was able to get a letter to that effect from my old home church when I applied for holy orders in TEC and had to document my baptism.

Since we consider baptism indelible, we do not rebaptize. ("Marked as Christ's own forever") If there is any question whether someone was baptized we can perform a conditional baptism saying "If you are not already baptized I baptize you in the Name etc." Then we are sure it has been done but we do not claim to be doing it a second time.

Many congregations and clergy are lax about this and membership gets reduced to being on the mailing list, which is not canonical.

I hope this puts your mind at least somewhat at ease.

It is standard language in Episcopal canons everywhere.

PseudoPiskie said...

It is still funny language. My Lutheran pastor sent the bishop a letter releasing me from my Lutheran membership or words to that effect. I thought that was pretty funny too but he said that's the language.

Anyhow thanks, Paul.

Paul said...

Anglicans specialize in funny language and seem to relish it. Which does not in any way make it less funny. We're an odd lot.

StLouisJohn said...

At first read, I thought the same as you. But there's one key word:

"...whose Baptism has been recorded in this Church

When I was received into TEC, I had to provide proof of my Baptism in a trinitarian church (RC). Had it not been baptismal in the Name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. If this were lacking, then I'd have to have a date with the Font.

You're lucky the Lutheran church "releases you" from your membership. The RC Church doesn't. They think I'm still and will always be Roman Catholic, albeit fallen. I think they're full of shit. And what I think trumps the Magisterium so :P~~~ x 100 to them.


sharecropper said...

While Episcopalians consider baptism indelible, Baptists only recognize baptism by immersion - or my Baptist church did. So, even though I was christened (baptized) in the Presbyterian church, I had to be immersed to become a member of the Baptist church. And, the preacher dropped me as he leaned me backwards into the water for the third time - downward I fell and he slipped trying to catch me. I was glad that I had the bathroom to myself when I was drying off...'cause I laughed and laughed at our antics.

The Episcopal Church accepted that I was baptised properly and recorded it as such.