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Rev. David  Clothier

Notes from the From the Vicar

What a wonderful visit we had with our bishop. As has become his custom, the Rt. Rev. J. Russell Kendrick scheduled his annual visit to Epiphany in September, this year coming on Sunday, September 5. He celebrated Holy Communion, preached and confirmed four of our members during our 10 a.m. service. He also led a forum at 9 a.m., which was well attended.

Our confirmands were Ginny Bauer, Jay Procino, Donna Andrews and Debra Evans. It was my honor and pleasure to present them to the bishop for Confirmation. Family members present came forward with them to place their hands on them as the bishop placed his hands on each confirmand’s head.

Confirmation is the newest of the seven sacraments we celebrate in the Episcopal Church (if you can call a celebration more than 500 years old “new”). It came about in the Middle Ages as an act recognizing the mature acceptance of one’s baptismal vows. In the early Church, baptisms took place at Easter (most often during the Easter Vigil).

Later, the Western Church began baptizing infants. Obviously, infants cannot make a mature acceptance of their baptismal vows (which is why parents and/or godparents speak for infants and small children at their baptisms). Confirmation began as a sacramental way in which those who could not speak for themselves could confirm the baptismal vows others made for them.

Many of the new churches established in the wake of the Protestant Reformation returned to the practice of only baptizing adults, believing that one being baptized must understand what is taking place. However, the Church of England (the Mother Church of the Episcopal Church) continued to baptize infants. Of course, as many of you witnessed with Donna Andrews’ baptism in June, baptism is not just for infants.

As with the other six sacraments, Confirmation is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In this case, it is the laying on of hands that is the outward and visible sign. The inward and spiritual grace in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I, for one, certainly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in Epiphany that day.

Following the Sunday service, after a brief time for photos and fellowship, the bishop sat down with the vestry and your vicar for a discussion of how we are doing at Epiphany and what the diocese is doing.

By coincidence, four days later at the diocesan office in Pensacola, I met with the bishop for my annual “check-in.” During August and September of each year, Bishop Russell meets individually with each of his active priests and deacons. This gives the bishop and his clergy an opportunity to discuss how each of us is doing and ask questions of one another.

During our conversation, we discussed a service of new ministry for me at Epiphany. Normally, this is done within the first month or so of a priest and/or deacon beginning his/her tenure at a new church placement. However, once again, Covid nixed that during the first few months of my time in Crestview. We tentatively agreed to schedule my celebration of new ministry in November. More on this later.

On a related front, Cathy and I recently met with the contractor renovating our future home on East Bay in Santa Rosa County. He feels confident that, after many delays due to weather and a shortage of materials and workers, we should be in the house sometime in October. What this means is my commute will be cut roughly in half, enabling me to spend more time in Crestview.

I know having clergy only a couple of times a week (including Sundays) has been hard of the congregation at Epiphany. Nothing will please me more than to be able to spend more time at the church during the week, as well as being able to share more fellowship with each of you. In addition, I want to be a presence in the community, not for my sake alone but to represent you all in the community. I have already been invited to offer prayer at city council and school board meetings, as well as the monthly breakfast of the chamber of commerce.

More than that, I want to be able to get to know more of the community and reach out to those looking for a church family where they can feel welcome. I’m not talking about poaching other churches, but reaching out to the many unchurched people in north Okaloosa County.

Finally, I want to be able to meet both the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Epiphany family, something that can be difficult with the Covid restrictions we have been under. Being in the church office more will hopefully enable me to do that.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that it has been seven months since I became your priest. It hasn’t always been easy, but I would not want to be anywhere else. I feel accepted, welcomed and loved by you all. I hope I have conveyed my love for each of you as well.

May the Peace of God that passes all understanding be with you always,

Father David+

The Rev. David M. Clothier, Vicar

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