Fr. Peter


The Rev. Peter A. Lane

We all share a basic understanding of what it means to be a member of a particular entity – a family, a club, an association, or even a world-wide organization. No matter how large or small the entity is, there is an event or a process that initiates us as members, and sometimes a few different ways we can mark membership. For instance, becoming part of a family can be accomplished by birth, adoption, or marriage. And we understand that there are both privileges and responsibilities that come with that membership. For any organization to function properly and live into its stated purpose, those privileges and responsibilities must be honored by all.

The Episcopal Church and its associated communities of faith, operate within this general understanding of the associated rights and responsibilities of membership. And, as with a family, there are different ways to become a member. You can be born into the Episcopal Church, you can marry into it, or you can be adopted into it, but each way involves a sacramental moment that seals it: Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception.

While growing up I had a number of aunts and uncles who were not related in any way to my family, except through friendship and bonds of affection. I referred to those adults as aunt or uncle as a courtesy and a sign of respect and acknowledgement of the special friendship my family shared with them. Here at St. Alfred’s, much like in a family, we have different ways of identifying how someone is associated with us, in addition to being a member of the Episcopal Church. The broadest category we have is Visitor. Anyone who attends a service or a special event and signs our guest book is placed in this category. I reach out to them personally and ask if they have an interest in learning more about St. Alfred’s and the Episcopal Church. Sometimes my inquiry leads to further conversation and gradually a greater and more regular involvement in our worship and activities, and sometimes it does not.

There is a second category that we call Friends of St. Alfred’s. These folks are not regularly attending worship or participating in any of our ministries but have come to St. Alfred’s for a special event such as a concert, or might be visiting family in the area and want to attend a service. They may or may not be Episcopalians, they may or may not be involved in a home parish, but on occasion, they come to St Alfred’s and we are happy to welcome them and call them friends. For a variety of reasons, they are not looking to become members of the parish but appreciate being kept informed of what’s going on, and we’re happy to do that.

A third category we’ve established is Attendee. This is someone who does come to church on a fairly regular basis and may be involved in other activities at church, as well, but has not made the decision to become a full member of both St. Alfred’s and the Episcopal Church. They are welcome to participate in any and all of our worship services and special events, as well as our fellowship, learning and outreach opportunities. The only restriction is that they may not serve on Vestry (the governing board of the parish), vote at annual meetings, or be licensed by the Episcopal Church to serve as a worship leader, Eucharistic Minister, or Lay Eucharistic Visitor.

The final category, which represents the majority of those who attend St. Alfred’s, is Member. They are Episcopalians who have either been Baptized and confirmed in an Episcopal parish at some point in their life and now call St. Alfred’s their home, or they have been received into the Episcopal Church from another denomination such as Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. Confirmation and Reception into the Episcopal Church is done only by a Bishop.

All of this is to say that, with our Bishop Douglas Scharf scheduled to visit St. Alfred’s the third full weekend in October, it is time for me to begin enquiring among all of you to see if any of you would like to either be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church. I will be offering classes beginning in mid-August for those who are interested. If you’re not sure whether you’d like to take this step of becoming an Episcopalian and a member of St. Alfred’s let’s talk. I hope by now you know that I love opportunities to meet with you and hear more of your stories about your particular faith journey, and how it has led you here to St. Alfred’s. This is an exciting time in the life of our parish, and what a wonderful time to make such a commitment to the parish and the wider Church that now nourishes and enriches your life.

If you’d like more information about becoming a member of St. Alfred’s and the Episcopal Church, let’s set a time to discuss. Please call the church office at 727-785-1601, ext.6, and speak with Michelle about scheduling a time to meet. I look forward to having an excited group of people to present to Bishop Scharf for Confirmation or Reception during his October visit.

See you in Church.


Fr. Peter”

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