SYCAMORE – One saint is a persecutor of Christians turned loyal follower and influential missionary. The other was one of the original disciples of Jesus.
Both are two of the most influential men in the Christian religion and churches of all denominations throughout the country carry their names. And on Thursday, St. Peter and St. Paul were celebrated together by the Episcopalian churches in Sycamore and DeKalb.
For the second year in a row, congregations from St. Paul’s in DeKalb and St. Peter’s in Sycamore gathered together to celebrate their “feast of title.” The feast of title is a designated day for the event or person a church is named after and Peter and Paul happen to share a day.
David Hedges, pastor for St. Peter’s, said the feast of title is one of the most important days in the church calendar and the joint celebration he started one year ago has turned into a special day for area Episcopalians.
People from as far as Oregon, Ill., and Dixon were expected to attend Thursday’s gathering to be confirmed by the Right Rev. Jeffrey Lee, bishop of the Chicago diocese. In the Episcopalian church, bishops are the only ones with the authority to confirm members, Hedges said, making the celebration even more special.
“Confirmation is one of the big highlights of a bishop coming to a parish church,” Hedges said. “He oversees about 125 congregations, so when he comes, he brings a sense of something larger than the entire church. He is like an icon of the entire church.”
Hedges said the service is a joyous celebration much like Easter or Christmas and the energy is “amped up” for the ceremony, which included a post-service meal. While it also is special to members, Hedges said it means a lot personally because it is a great opportunity to sit back and take in the message instead of leading the service.
Stacy Walker-Frontjes, pastor of St. Paul’s in DeKalb, which hosted last year’s feast, said the event has turned into a great way to build a relationship that can help the community.
She said just as Peter and Paul were different, so too are the churches, but there are enough similarities to create a strong relationship between the congregations.
“Neither one of us are large,” Walker-Frontjes said. “We have more resources, ideas and enthusiasm when we come together.”
The annual event has laid the foundation for future missions and partnerships, Walker-Frontjes said, which already can be seen in the churches’ internship programs. She said both churches decided to share an intern this summer, which could help lead to more coordinated events.
Most importantly, Hedges said, the annual celebration is a way to reach out to others in the community and show them what Episcopalian churches can offer. He said it is one of the best services for other Christians and non-believers to attend to get a true taste of what the religion has to offer.
“The feast of title is another chance to celebrate who you are,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”