Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rector's Rambling - February 13, 2011

Last week I mused upon the importance of these sacramental milestones. Today, I want to look at one of them in particular – baptism.
Baptism is, of course, the great “initiation” rite of the Church. In the waters of baptism we are made “children of God, and heirs of the Kingdom” and are “regenerate and born anew of water and the Holy Spirit”. (Baptismal Liturgy, BCP p. 273 – 282). We become both spiritually and physically members of The Body of Christ: The Church.
One great restoration in the worship of the Church is to restore the baptismal liturgy to Sunday worship, so the entire community can be of support, and encouraged by the new Christian. Of the 97 baptisms in my time here, 21 have been adults and the rest children (mostly infants). Many of the adult baptisms have been in connection with people coming to St. John’s to get married or to attend the Alpha Course (or both). In 2006 we baptized 11 people from six families at one service.
Fourteen of those baptisms have been of people who live out of state but came to be baptized at St. John’s because their extended families are here, or were here for generations (i.e. this is the family church). We have had quite a few baptisms of children who were of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations to be baptized at St. John’s.
But being a downtown parish, St. John’s has a transient membership. Many people move to the area, find St. John’s, and move away after a few years. Unfortunately, some who were baptized just don’t come to Church here, or anywhere anymore (see Matthew 13:18–23). At a quick glance, 20 of the 97 attend regularly, another 30 attend occasionally, and 47 either never attend here anymore, or were from out of state.