What is an Episcopalian? One family’s story

What is an Episcopalian? isn’t limited to adults or newcomers. It’s also a course that welcomes everyone from youth approaching confirmation, to cradle Episcopalians seeking a deeper understanding of their faith and their church.  And, it’s not uncommon for strong friendships to emerge from the shared experience of this class.  Susan Hulbert tells us how the Hulbert family has experienced all these aspects of  What is an Episcopalian? .

All those interested in confirmation, reception, exploring their faith or learning about the Episcopal Church have the opportunity to sign up for the What is an Episcopalian class at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which starts this week on Wednesday.

The Hulbert Family

My husband Doug and I took the class twice- in 2011 and 2013–even though we were confirmed long ago and even though Doug spent two years in an Episcopal seminary—and we learned a lot each time. We enrolled in the class because our teenaged sons decided to be confirmed, and the Cathedral’s process for youth confirmation includes a component providing for family attendance at this class.

The process also includes weekly independent study by the youth and family and meetings with Christine D’Amico, the Children, Youth and Families Director. This was not the typical approach to confirmation, but after going through the process twice, Doug and I agreed it was the best possible path, a much better way to strengthen one’s faith and learn about God’s love than the memorization and rote learning that characterized our confirmation classes of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sometimes I think Doug and I enjoyed the What is an Episcopalian class more than our sons. We looked forward to it each week. We enjoyed learning about the Bible and the church, with an opportunity to discuss what we learned, with interesting people and excellent teachers-what could be better? Many of the other attendees have become fast friends. Even more, we enjoyed the process of exploring our faith–and theirs–with our sons as we watched them interact at the class and discuss what they learned with us.

It was also interesting to watch each son engage with the process differently. Gabe enjoyed the material he learned in class; dialogue with the instructors and class members was a primary component of his learning process. Benjamin, on the other hand, got more out of one-on-one discussions about what he learned with us or with Christine D’Amico. While a highlight of the class for Gabe was reading the Gospel of Luke with Doug, the highlight for Benjamin was participating in the Instructed Eucharist component of the class as a thurifer, an experience that inspired him to train as the Cathedral’s newest-and youngest thurifer. Participation in the What is an Episcopalian Class enriched our faith lives and strengthened our family in ways we did not imagine when we began the process.

In fact, a goal for St. Paul’s youth programs is to unite families in the midst of a world filled with so many means to fracture them, supporting and sustaining families as they explore scripture, theology and the church,  deepening their faith. The distinctive approach to youth confirmation at St. Paul’s intentionally promotes family time, encourages family faith development, and allows family members to talk with each other about God and faith and church. We are grateful that our journey, and our sons’, included participation in the What is an Episcopalian Class in two different years.

If you are interested is exploring your faith further, and meeting and getting to know many on the same journey, sign up for this excellent class.

Susan Hulbert


Join The Revs Laurel and Colin Mathewson on a 12-week exploration of Anglican Christian tradition on Wednesday nights starting January 15 at 6-8 pm in the Guild Room. 

The course is free, a light supper will be served ($5 donation), and child care is available upon request. ALL ARE WELCOME!  Register online at stpaulcathedral.org/whatis.   Questions? Contact Colin at mathewsonc@stpaulcathedral.org, or 619-977-8173.

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1 thought on “What is an Episcopalian? One family’s story”

  1. I sang with Doug in the All Saints' choir in Virginia Beach, Virginia back in the 1990's. Have many fond memories of that time. The St. Paul's program sounds like a really solid foundation. Thank you for sharing your experience, and please accept my best regards!


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