This is what I told my evangelical husband when he asked why it was important for me to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church: I wanted to be confirmed for the same reasons I wanted to get married rather than simply live together. I wanted my relationship to be “official”; I wanted to make communal promises to uphold my end of the relationship during tough times, and I wanted the accountability of friends to hold me to those promises.
I remember the first time I visited an Episcopal church. I was visiting Saint Paul’s in Fort Collins for the first time after deciding that the Anglican Church down the road was no longer for me, because the priest gave an entire sermon about being pro-life without once mentioning the strong connection between abortion and poverty. I needed a church that wasn’t afraid to embrace social activism and justice as a critical part of the gospel.
In the Episcopal Church I saw a unique passion for giving voice to the voiceless that I did not find in other churches I’d attended throughout my twenties, in which “social justice” was a progressive, liberal issue that distracted from the gospel rather than complemented it.
The first sermon I heard at Saint Paul’s was about how Black Lives Matter was, at its core, a biblical movement in addition to a social one, invoking many of the sentiments in The Cross and the Lynching Tree. I also picked up a pamphlet that described the Episcopal church as “a thinking church,” a place where questions are welcomed and even encouraged.
Because wrestling with the text is a long-held Jewish tradition, and a critical part of my spiritual upbringing (lax as that was), a church that did not fear questions or doubts felt more Jewish to me than any of the Messianic congregations I visited in the past.
I noticed something in the Book of Common Prayer I really love. When asking new members if they promise to uphold the teachings of the Church, we are to say, “I will, with God’s help.” I love this because it allows for the occasional season of doubt and questions. I’m not promising to believe everything perfectly, and the church fathers, in their wisdom, knew the impossibility of this. But “with God’s help,” when we act in faith, the heart can’t help but follow.
This day was a celebration of finding a new spiritual home: something I didn’t think I’d ever find again. I don’t know what my faith will look like five, ten, fifteen years down the road, but when it’s hard to believe, “I will, with God’s help.”
See also: Why the Episcopal Church?