Join us on Sunday, May 12, at 10:30 to welcome the Right Reverend Edwin F. Gulick for a service of Baptism and Confirmation as we support those being baptized and confirmed. Bishop Gulick is well known to us through his role as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia and through his long-time family ties to this area and to Trinity Church. Bishop Gulick’s great-grandfather lived across the street in what is now the church-owned Gulick House. His great-grandfather practiced medicine there, and his grandfather was raised there. Currently a Visiting Bishop, he assists Bishop Goff with visitations twice a month.
It is our good fortune that Trinity Church has been chosen for one of his visitations. While Confirmation has a long and varied history, the central actions of confirmation have always been the laying on of hands and a prayer said by the bishop. Princess Elizabeth, who would become Queen Elizabeth I, was baptized and confirmed when she was three days old. During Elizabeth’s lifetime, however, confirmation was separated from baptism because it was associated with the age of reason. Confirmation became a moment for strengthening for Christian service those Christians who had already been given new birth in Baptism. A number of scholars have developed the following rationale for the connection between baptism and confirmation: “In baptism the Holy Spirit operates from outside to convey pardon and new birth; in confirmation the gift of the indwelling Spirit is bestowed.”
From late 13th century through the 1970s, Communion was limited to those who were confirmed. In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, that practice changed as the Church returned to its Christian roots by viewing baptism as the primary basis for entrance into the Christian life with all of its privileges and responsibilities. Confirmation, however, continues to be a central part of the regular renewal of faith.
Over the years, I have found the role of the congregation especially important for two reasons. The first is that those being baptized or confirmed value the support of the people who join with them in worship. The second is that the renewal of our own baptismal vows strengthens us for service in the world.
I hope you will come on May 12.
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.