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Diocesan Resolution 2012-01: Holy Habits and Renewal of Baptismal Vows

RESOLVED, That this 138th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark encourage the people of our diocese to make a commitment to practice, especially during the great fifty days of Easter, the holy habits of weekly worship, prayer, scripture study, tithing, and honoring the Sabbath as part of the renewal of baptismal vows; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Commission on Music and Liturgy is requested to develop a liturgical resource that invites us to embrace the practice of holy habits to nourish and strengthen our vows in living out the baptismal covenant.

Submitted by the Fund Development Committee: The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith; Mr. Paul Shackford; Ms. Melinda Davis; Mr. David Farrand; Mr. Andrew Lark; The Rev. Maylin Biggadike; Ms. Cynthia McChesney; Ms. Sarah Rosen; Ms. Pat Yankus; and Ms. Jackie Ross.

Supporting Information

The early Christian community understood baptism to be about human transformation. The person receiving the sacrament of baptism was to emerge from the baptismal waters a new person in Christ with a new set of values, priorities and commitments.

Each time we renew our baptismal vows in community, we profess that we share in the death and resurrection of Christ. Dying to self is the process of conversion that allows us to mature into the full stature of Christ. St. Paul, the first great theologian of baptism, expressed its meaning in terms of a break with the old and beginning of new life in Christ. He understood well the reality of being sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ own as a summons to a life long covenantal relationship with God in Christ. Baptism is the radical sign of the new framework for human life. It is the sacrament that underlies the meaning of Christian practice.

The renewal of baptism vows calls us back to our true identities--son and daughters in God’s household. God’s household is marked by the vision of Shalom, the biblical understanding of peace, justice, health, wholeness, harmony, the condition that allows all living things to reach their potential of wholeness. The word steward comes from the Greek word oikonomia, which means manager or caretaker of the household. As members of God’s household, we are called to steward God’s vision of shalom. Our baptismal promises show us a way forward in building up God’s household.

We are called to celebrate our life with Christ and to recommit ourselves to the beliefs and practices of our Baptism. In the renewal of our baptismal vows, we invite members throughout the Diocese of Newark to commit to the holy habits of tithing, daily personal prayer, scripture study, Sabbath and regular corporate worship—practices that strengthen nourish, and reflect baptismal living. (See further explanation of Holy Habits below).

The Fund Development Committee asks that the Commission on Liturgy and Music create a liturgical supplement to the Renewal of Vows that includes a commitment to practice the Holy Habits

Baptismal living is a communal and worshipful endeavor. The creation of an intentional prayerful pledge commitment to practice holy habits during the season in which we re-commit to the promises made in our baptism will replenish and saturate God’s adopted sons and daughters with a vibrant and vital faith to continue in building up God’s household.


2003 Report to the 74th General Convention

Explanation Holy Habits

We understand God's invitation to be faithful stewards as a call to a lifelong journey of repentance, conversion, and renewed life. God calls us to grow into the imago Dei that we are created to be. Often, faithful response will require us to make choices which challenge our culture's obsessions with scarcity, self-sufficiency, and acquisitiveness.

We are called to be stewards of our faith, of Creation, of civil society, and of our lives. None of this comes naturally - it requires both faith and commitment and so, the church has developed a number of practices and disciplines or holy habits to help us on our journey. All of these find expression in our baptismal vows.

At the center of our individual and corporate lives is the call to be stewards of the Gospel. We are called not just to live our faith in Jesus Christ, but also to proclaim that faith by word and example. This finds expression in the way we work, pray, and give.

We are entrusted with the stewardship of creation. This means we must reflect on our use of resources and on what it means to have been given the care of the whole world and charged to rule and serve all God's creatures. The Baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace impels us to be actively involved as citizens of our communities, nation, and world.

To live as Christian stewards is to be intentional in our use of all that God has given us. Certainly that includes the first fruits tithing of our material wealth as a reminder and symbol of our thankful acknowledgement of God as the gracious source of all and as a way to begin dealing with our addiction to money. It also includes the discernment, cultivation and use of our skills and abilities to further God's work in the world, the mission Dei. Because our gifts differ, and because we sometimes find it difficult to recognize and develop our own God-given giftedness, our baptism grafts us into the body of Christ. We are to recognize the imago Dei within ourselves and within every human being.

One of the great stewardship challenges of our age is our stewardship of time. We live in a culture that offers nearly infinite diversions and demands that we fill every moment with activity. There is no greater need, and nothing more counter-cultural, than for us to reclaim Sabbath time. Not only is the commandment for Sabbath time the second-longest of the ten; Sabbath is part of the order of Creation. It is the very culmination of Creation. As the Church and as dioceses, parishes, and individuals it is imperative that we find ways to teach the absolute necessity of Sabbath as part of individual spiritual life, and that we encourage and enable our bishops, clergy and laity to model the balance of activity and Sabbath.

Resource Date: 
Jan 31, 2012