I became an Episcopalian at the ripe old age of twenty-eight and a half, a whopping (not quite) two years ago. Switching denominations meant that my biological family was divorced from my denominational family. Actually, they were never married to begin with. As a new orphan in the church, I knew I needed to find a church family to adopt me. But how? I discovered that the Episcopalian approach to family is fundamentally and irrevocably rooted in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Any Episcopalian will tell you that the Eucharist is the central, defining act of Christian worship; this is why we take communion every Sunday. This conviction is why family is not defined by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or genetics. Family is defined by who is seated at the Eucharistic table. It is this sacred ritual of sharing the Eucharist with my church body that instantly changes my name from Orphan to Sister. As such, there is now a continuous relationship between my familial rite and my familial action: I am Sister because I sit at the table, and I sit at the table because I am Sister. But how does a Eucharistic perspective of family address the familial divorce that exists across denominational lines? The body and blood of Christ declares that there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile. Although we might disagree, we are all equal. This means that despite our suspicions and reluctances, we are compelled to broaden our understanding of family. I have found my family in the Episcopal Church among persons with whom I do not share a generational, racial, socio-economic, or genetic commonality. This is a result of embracing a definition of family that cherishes the beauty of diversity, and displays the unique quality that worshipping God together and loving each other are mysteriously and wonderfully synonymous.
Photo Credit: Fr. Maxim Massilitin
Elizabeth McQuitty graduated Fuller Theological Seminary in 2013. She is in discernment for ordination in the Episcopal Church. She is a chaplain candidate in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a personal trainer at Liz McQuitty Fitness.