Danielle Bane is a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal church in Fairview, PA. She is a life long Episcopalian who grew up in the Diocese of West Virginia. Below are her thoughts on why she is an Episcopalian.
I am an Episcopalian because:
- We value learning….about the Trinity and its work, about each other and about ourselves.
- We are principle-driven with a healthy dose of context. We remain true to the fundamentals of the Bible and the Anglican doctrine upon which we are founded. Yet, we continue to adapt our practice and interpretation as the human existence evolves.
- This is God’s table and all are welcome. Probably my favorite sentence of the service. We can get better at this—that’s true. But I love that we are a leader in the manifestation of this principle. I know a child who went to a Catholic school for a couple of years. At her first confession, she went up against the Priest about why she couldn’t take communion when they went to Mass. She was quite clear that “God welcomes everybody. Why can’t I eat the wafer?” If an 8-year-old child can grasp that, we are doing something right.
- No topic is off the table. The best way for me to capture this for you is that where I went to church camp (Camp Peterkin, The Diocese of West Virginia’s church camp) as a child even the connection of sex and spirituality were addressed. We discussed, seriously, many related topics in appropriate degrees of detail.
- I’m pretty sure the Episcopal Church saved my life. If it weren’t for the connections to the people at my local church and Camp Peterkin, the values my parents were trying to nurture might have evaporated to some degree. The many ripple effects that I was able to arrest would have won.
- We like to smile. When there is an announcement that includes the words “ring the bell” and a few start dancing behind the last pew because all we can hear is the 2002 Anita Ward song, that’s okay. It’s okay to make a joke and let others join in. When the Prayers of the People includes the names Laverne and Shirley sequentially and half the people stifle laughter, we joke about it during coffee hour. When the organ comes unplugged on Christmas Eve, a parishioner crawls over to plug it back in and everyone is still on the right beat, smiles spread across everyone’s faces. And when my infant daughter cries out at just the right moment in the Baptismal service, the ahhh’s in the room rise as everyone smiles, knowing another soul is filled with the Spirit. We welcome joy in our service.
- As a child I knew when church was almost over because our Liturgy is a mantra. After about age 10, if I sat in the pews, it was usually with someone else’s family. I typically was an acolyte. And I knew when everything would happen, when I had to sit still, when I needed to get the lavabo bowl and when we were going to sing the last hymn. Today I hear the rhythm in much more meaningful ways. But when I am having trouble concentrating for any reason, it’s nice to know how much longer we have….
- I don’t know about you but I am wired to feel guilty about almost anything. Even if I didn’t do it. So I am most grateful that the Liturgy and the doctrine of our church does not call guilt one of its layers of foundation. We are all about sincere remorse and making things right when called for—don’t get me wrong. But the use of the Bible to invoke guilt wears me out. The reel in my head does that all by itself.
- As a teenager, I dated a boy whose father was a very conservative Baptist preacher. I frequently went to church with him on Sunday nights. Most of my memories about those evenings include him yelling, how red his face got and wondering why slapping the Bible helped convey the message. Today I respect the huge variety of ways we can worship God. But for me, I appreciate that there is a balance between the sound of the service and quiet reflection during the Holy Eucharist (okay, okay, are you singing the Sound of Silence in your head, too?).
- The music. Anyone who will listen has heard me talk about the music from Camp Peterkin. While my daughter heard Jimmy Buffett from her Dad at bedtime, I was singing In the Upper Room, The Irish Blessing, and Pass it On. Today during the Sanctus, I often hear all the versions I have learned as a Cradle Episcopalian. Music lifts people. It evokes meaning when it can otherwise not be reached. It’s a warm, welcome hug. It triggers change. It is an important common thread of history, worship and community whether you are at a campfire or the National Cathedral.
- And finally, The Peace.