An Episcopal Baptism: Part 1

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On Easter Sunday my fiance was baptized. While I’ve been baptized three times, he never had! He mentioned wanting to be baptized just after we started dating, but it took awhile to make it happen.

Since Easter also happened to be my fiance’s birthday, the priest thought it was a perfect day for a baptism! We met with Father Joe, our priest, early last week to find out more about baptism in the Episcopal Church. All three of my baptisms were of the immersion variety (I was dunked!) and despite last year’s research, I was still unfamiliar with an Episcopal baptism.

At our first meeting Father Joe mostly spoke about the significance of baptism – what it represents, how important it is, what it means going forward in your faith. But he did tell us that my fiance would need sponsors for the baptism. A sponsor is basically a godparent, but I guess sponsor sounds better when it is an adult being baptized. I was able to be a sponsor, but he needed at least one more. He asked the parents of one of his closest friends to do the honors.

We all agreed to meet up the night before Easter to go through the details of the baptism. It didn’t hurt that Father Joe offered to buy us dinner afterward too :)

That night we did a quick run-through of the service. Father Joe showed us where we’d be standing and had my fiance try to fit in the baptismal “pool”. We went through who says what and when, and Father Joe answered several of our questions.

Even with all that preparation, I still was completely shocked by how the whole experience went! I’ll share that story next time, so stay tuned.

photo (91)

A New Look

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You might have noticed an update to the header – now it reads Church and the NOT SO Single Girl. That’s because I got engaged recently!!

not so single anymore

But here’s the good news for this blog: I’ve read all the emails and comments asking me to continue writing, so I will! My fiance is actually going to be baptized in the Episcopal Church soon, and we will be joining and getting married there. And I’ll be blogging it all here!

Stay tuned :)

The Big Decision…Finally

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I’ve been putting this post off for weeks now. Waiting for the right words to come. Trying to decide how best to announce the “Big Decision”.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know. But allow me to make it official: I’ve decided I want to join the Episcopal Church.

episcopal-church-logo-eng-red-shadow

Why? Well, from my very first visit back in January 2012, I felt at home there. Even though I didn’t understand things, the bowing and kneeling and crossing, it felt right. Even in 2012 when I was still visiting different denominations, I found myself visiting Episcopal Churches in the area.

The one closest to me – right down the road, in fact – is super conservative. Suits and pearls, very formal. I went there a few Sundays, and if I hadn’t met my boyfriend, that might have been the church I made my home.

But I did meet my boyfriend, a small town volunteer firefighter who feels most comfortable in jeans and boots. He didn’t exactly fit in at the pearls and jacket church, but he did love the Episcopal services. (He has a background in the Catholic Church.) We kept looking, trying another church in the area. This one was the opposite of the first, ultra-casual. Everyone wore jeans, no one kneeled, and the services were very relaxed. I felt it was too far in the other direction, so we tried one more church.

Much like Goldilocks, the third one was just right. This church describes itself as “not your ordinary church” and they are very right. The church sanctuary has elements of the Orthodox Church with icons on the walls. The music is a single man with a guitar – and occasionally a small choir – and contemporary songs are mixed with hymns. There is kneeling and crossing, but everyone does it a little differently. The priest has a Baptist background that occasionally comes out in his sermons.

Essentially, this church has combined my favorite elements of other churches with the traditions of the Episcopal Church, creating the ideal worship service for my boyfriend and me. Not to mention how welcoming the church is! Everyone is friendly and warm, inviting us to join in as much as possible.

For now we’re just attending the church regularly. We want to join, but joining the Episcopal Church is a little more time consuming than just signing a card :)

Which brings me to a question: would anyone be interested in reading about that process? What all goes into becoming an Episcopalian?

Or are we ready to end this journey entirely?

Wrapping up the Pentecostal Church

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Like most denominations, there are different kinds of Pentecostal churches. The one I’m most familiar with is the Pentecostal Holiness Church. To me, Pentecostal churches were just another variation of Christianity. Essentially, I thought they were just Baptists, minus “once saved always saved”, plus speaking in tongues. And I still sort of feel the same way. The Pentecostal church that I know, the one that I researched this month (and a half, ahem), is not much different than the other churches I visited. They believe in the Apostles Creed, they believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the believe in loving and helping others.

Jesus Saves Pentecostals

So what about the assumptions I shared at the start of this month?

  • Pentecostals don’t cut their hair - Most Pentecostal churches don’t believe in this (or that women can’t wear pants) any more. The exception is the United Pentecostal Church, an off-shoot of the Pentecostal faith that seems to be a bit fundamentalist.
  • Pentecostals believe in faith healing, and practice it regularly - All Pentecostal churches believe in it, but regular practice varies by individual church.
  • Pentecostals are snake handlers – NO!! There were a handful of extremists that started this, but as a rule, no, Pentecostals aren’t snake handler.
  • Pentecostals speak in tongues - We covered this. Yes, most do. But not all.
  • Pentecostals are very vocal during service, lots of shouting and handraising and amening - Yes.

Most of the assumptions (especially the more extreme ones, like no hair-cutting) were related to the United Pentecostal Church, a variation of Pentecostalism that is much more strict than most. The women don’t significantly cut their hair, so they usually wear their hair in buns atop their heads. They also don’t wear makeup or much jewelry, and they always wear full-length skirts or dresses. (Reminds me of the 7th Day Adventists, or the Fundamentalist LDS Church.) This is a church I would have to spend a lot of time researching to even begin to understand.

So that’s it. Last post about the Pentecostal Church. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts on the last 12 months over the next few weeks. I’ll even be letting you know what church I end up making my home! So stay tuned – it’s almost over.

Image by Thomas Hawk used under Creative Common License.

Speaking in Tongues Part 2

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I went back to my parents’ Pentecostal church this past weekend. Before the service, my mom talked to me about speaking in tongues. She didn’t realize how little I understood about it, despite growing up around it. We didn’t get to talk much, but she did explain that speaking in tongues is different from receiving a message in tongues.

So here’s a little more information on the topic.

Speaking in tongues can mean speaking in a language of heavenly origin or speaking in a human language previously unknown to the person. The first instance is more common (at least to me) and is usually what we hear in church services. The second instance usually takes place when witnessing to others.

I found some interesting  ideas on the reason behind speaking in tongues. Pentecostals (mostly) believe speaking in tongues serves two purposes. The first is, as I’ve said before, it serves as the evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit. This purpose is simply to pray and praise God. When used this way, speaking in tongues is often referred to as a “prayer language”. The person speaking isn’t trying to communicate with anyone but God. Pentecostals believe the Spirit intercedes for us through tongues. It is a way of supernaturally directing our prayers.

The other purpose is what we often call the gift of tongues. Not all who speak in a prayer language are given the gift of tongues. The purpose of the gift of tongues is for  the person to speak publicly, whether through prayer, song, or simply a message. Here is what I found really interesting. At first I thought this purpose, the gift of tongues, is what my mom meant by receiving a message. But apparently not all Pentecostals agree on this idea. Some believe this the gift is always directed from man to God, in which case it is a prayer or praise spoken to God that happens to occur in the hearing of the entire congregation. Others believe that the gift of tongues can be prophetic, so when someone prays, sings, or speaks in front of the congregation they are delivering a “message in tongues” which is a prophetic utterance given under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

While some Pentecostals agree to disagree about the prophetic nature of these messages, most agree that these public acts of speaking in tongues must be interpreted. This happens when someone who has received the gift of interpretation understands the message and translates it for the congregation. Funny enough, it is common for people who have the gift of tongues to also have the gift of interpretation, and yes, they can interpret their own message. (I know that probably creates a little doubt in some people’s minds.)

So that’s what I’ve learned about speaking in tongues. Do I know more than I did before? Yes. Am I still a little confused? Absolutely.

Anyone want to share their insight? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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