Profile Remembrances

Right Rev. Otis Charles, DD, STD

As Remembered by Barbara Hickam

I was in the first group of kids to be confirmed by Bishop Charles in Utah in 1972. The first thing I remember was that he announced that people don't have to be confirmed to eat at God's table because he wouldn't turn anyone away any more than anyone else would turn a guest away from their own home. Right then I knew things had changed. I decided to wait to receive Communion until after my confirmation since I had already waited and had looked forward to making it a special occasion. But I welcomed the sentiment. Later many of us teens would drop in at Camp Tuttle, the church camp in Brighton, Utah. He allowed us to be there anytime we didn't interfere with ongoing programs. It was an oasis. We could escape the city and be with supportive friends. I became deeply affected by the pristine natural environment and spiritual communion with nature. There was an occasion when I was to give a talk to the youth group there. I had been assigned a topic on how Christianity is the only true path to God. I had a complete spiritual crisis. I couldn't, in all faith, lie to others when I just didn't believe that to be true. Growing up in Utah and constantly being told by the Mormons that my faith was going to land me in hell, I couldn't be a hypocrite and espouse the same garbage. I truly cherished the Episcopal way, but I believed then as I do now that God speaks to each of us in our own language. I reached out to Bishop Charles and we had a very pivotal talk in the chapel. He told me one of his kids was a Buddhist. He believed my generation had grown up with the vision of the earth from space and we had acquired a global perspective that previous generations couldn't relate to as easily. He told me to tell my truth and it would be fine. Giving me permission to be honest in my faith and to be myself was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. I have followed Otis Charles' career over the years and I am very happy for him and the world that he has opted to be himself and to tell his truth.

August 20, 2012