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Florida Episcopal Church Agrees to Baptize Gay Couple's Son

(RICH McCAFFREY)Baby Jack

An Episcopal church in Florida has finally agreed to baptize the son of a gay couple after it initially refused the service due to opposition from some church members.

The baptism of baby Jack, son of Rich and Eric McCaffrey, will take place in the summer after the couple met with Episcopal Bishop Greg Brewer of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke last Thursday to thresh out the issue.

"Bishop Brewer extended an invitation to meet with us and we had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday evening. We spoke frankly and openly about the chain of events. The Bishop acknowledged he learned the Cathedral set a firm date of April 19 for the baptism, but did not support postponing the baptism," Rich posted on Facebook.

He added, "He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it."

The baby was earlier scheduled to be baptized last April 19. However, three days before the ceremony, Anthony Clark, the church's dean, told them that certain members of the church opposed their son's baptism.

The two have been together for 15 years, got married in New York last summer and adopted Jack.

"We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer. At the same time we know on many fronts there is healing to be done which will take time. Some may question why we are choosing to return to the Cathedral," Rich wrote.

He said they are returning to the church "because we still have faith in the goodness of people, and we trust people have good intent and ultimately will do the right thing."

In a letter to the clergy, Pastor Brewer clarified that he was not behind the postponement of the baptism.

He contacted Rich and met with him.

"The leadership of the Cathedral met in emergency session and affirmed their support for the McCaffreys and their child's baptism. The upshot was that the parents plan to continue attending the Cathedral and present their child for baptism in the near future," Brewer said.

He said he knows that "there is a wide range of opinions as to whether or not it is appropriate to baptize the adopted child of gay parents."

Brewer said his concern lies in the person who will be baptized.

"When I am considering who should be baptized, my preeminent concern is for the one being presented for baptism. Which would be better for the child: to be baptized into the Christian community or to grow up in a secular household devoid of the both the grace of Christ and bonds of a Christian community?"

He added, "Given our own brokenness as a people, it seems to me that none of us has the right to cast the first stone. We all live below the demands that both the baptismal covenant and the Scriptures ask of us, and many times consciously. We need the whole church to help us out to become all that God intends us to be. We are on a journey together, and the fact that God has offered us salvation at all is a sign that God is giving us a free gift of grace to the undeserving. As Romans 3:23 says, 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.'"

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