The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022

Dear Friends,

Every three years the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets to conduct business, chart a course for the future, and tend to matters of governance.  This coming July two legislative houses – the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies – will gather in Baltimore to consider resolutions and eventually vote on them.  Much like a bill passing through the houses of congress, a resolution that is approved by both houses at the General Convention becomes Episcopal Church law.

One of the resolutions this time around that is already stirring up quite a bit of interest deals with the relationship between baptism and the Eucharist.  Church teaching that is widely, if not universally shared across denominations is that baptism leads to the Eucharist.  The font leads to the table.  In short, one must be baptized in order to receive the sacrament of bread and wine.  Lately, however, a number of people are questioning the restriction.  They see little Biblical evidence to support the notion that Communion should be only for the baptized.  They argue that all people are God’s children regardless of church membership, and sometimes being welcomed at the table leads to a deeper commitment at the baptismal font.  Indeed, a movement is afoot to promote what is called “the open table.”

Will the Episcopal Church continue to require baptism as a prerequisite for receiving Communion?  At the Sunday Forum this week the Revs. Harry Krauss, Thomas Szczerba, and I will outline the parameters of what is likely to be a lively debate (Julia would join the panel too but she is away this weekend).  It’s a topic that goes right to the heart of the identity of the church and what it means to belong.  In the time available to us we’ll look at the matter Biblically, historically, theologically, and pastorally, starting at 10 am in the Reception Room – with breakfast treats, I might add.

On another matter, every once in a while something at Grace Church turns out to be not difficult!  If you recall, last week I wrote about how Matt Kopp, our Manager of Membership and Development was moving on to take a new position.  We are a bare-bones staff and were wondering how we’d keep the plates spinning while conducting a thorough search.  A thought crossed my mind (perhaps the Holy Spirit) that we should be open to someone already in our midst.  Soon thereafter a new parishioner applied for the job.  Travis Brock Kennedy has been at Grace Church for less than a year but has already become involved as a lay reader.  He has attended Saving Grace NYC events and meetings, and participated in the Lenten book study.  He also has a master’s degree in historic preservation and a wealth of experience with nonprofits and foundations.  To make a long story short, he knocked it out of the park in his interview and we’ve offered him the job.  Travis starts on Monday.  I look forward to introducing you to him some Sunday soon.

See you in church.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring