The Episcopal Church has a great tradition of receiving, welcoming and recognizing new converts the this Body of Christ. I know because I have been a part of this Church for a long time; I am not a cradle Episcopalian, but I believe that I have been a strong and active member since I joined in '94. But my life has taken a drastic new direction and the person who joined so many years ago is now legally known as Sarah. Unfortunately, I was told that Sarah was not recognized by my church, but I am writing on a new page now that I have been officially recognized and Acknowledged to be Sarah.
Two Sunday's ago was the Church's recognition of Sarah, which has taken over a year to come to fruition. With our new Bishop's previous visit, I had asked our Vicar to get his approval to Re-Affirmed me as Sarah. And as talks go, there was a breakdown in communication and my Re-Affirmation didn't happen for me that year. So fast forward to Sunday and the return visit with the current Bishop.
After 4 weeks of receiving our Vicar's own teaching instruction's for new Communicants I was Re-Affirmed as Sarah in the Episcopal Church. Her class was more like a Bible Study and Bible Passages to be memorized, than discussing the differences which make the Episcopal Church so welcoming and accepting, which should have been the first discussions.
To be recognized as Sarah by my church is something that I needed to do since I transitioned and let go of the 'Old Person of John'. Ever since I transition, I have felt the great need for my church to recognize and affirm this Sarah person as a member of the Church since 'John' didn't exist anymore.
If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that Communicants who transition should be more proactive in seeking the acknowledgement by Church's and from their Church leaders. Also Priest's and Vicar's should know their flock and ask when those who transition are ready for re-affirmation. We all need to be recognized as the person we are or have become by our church.