Baptism is the rite of initiation into the life of the church. The baptized are entitled to full benefits of membership, such as receiving Holy Communion, participating in activities, and serving on committees. While the majority of those baptized are under two years of age, it is common to see older children, teenagers, and adults baptized.
For teens and adults, Baptism is the outward sign to the community that the person believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. For babies and young children Baptism is the outward promise of God’s favor forever. The parents and godparents promise to bring the child to church and teach the child the Christian faith until the child is of age to proclaim the faith.
Scheduling a Baptism
Baptisms are performed during the 10:15 am Sunday service, typically the fourth Sunday of the month. The church office has the exact schedule for six months in advance. Call the church office, 283-3310, to schedule a date. You will be asked to meet with the clergy to go over the details of the Baptism and record vital information about the person being baptized and other family members.
A rehearsal will be scheduled the day before the Baptism. All parents and Godparents are to be present.
Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation
Confirmation is a “mature public affirmation” of one’s Christian faith and an informed,
conscious “commitment to the responsibilities of Baptism.” In Confirmation, a person
receives the laying on of hands by a Bishop. An assumption underlying Confirmation is
that many people are baptized as infants when the parents make promises on behalf of the child. After the 7th grade, a child may make a public commitment and a conscious commitment to the Christian faith.
Reception is for those who have already made a mature public affirmation of Christian faith (already confirmed in another denomination) and desire to be received into the Episcopal Church. People previously confirmed or received in the Episcopal Church may desire to make a statement of renewal regarding their faith with a Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows.
Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant made in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church, at least one party must be a baptized Christian. Clergy preside at weddings, regardless of whether you are an Episcopalian, a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, single, divorced, or widowed. Contact the clergy as soon as possible to secure a date, place, and time.
Anointing of the Sick
This is known by different names, including the Sacrament of the Sick, Anointing, Extreme Unction, and Last Rites. The name, Last Rites, is not accurate, because this sacrament is available to anyone who is sick or desires healing in body, mind, or spirit.
Ministration of the sick is the rite of anointing of the sick with oil and/or the laying on of hands through which God’s grace is given. Services of healing are offered during the week at the church, or during visitations by the clergy to hospitals and nursing homes.
Clergy are available to preside at the funeral of any person, whether or not the person is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. During the death and dying process, the family should notify the church so that clergy may respond appropriately and assist with the decisions regarding the funeral service and arrangements. The funeral service can take place at the church with Holy Communion, or at the funeral home.
Cremation is an option for those who desire it. The burial of the body or cremated remains take place immediately after the funeral service or at another convenient time for the family. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has a columbarium for ashes.
During the prayer of General Confession in the Eucharist, we confess our sins against God and our neighbors. Because God never ceases to love or forgive us, we are able to look honestly at ourselves, examine our mistakes, and focus on the things that need change and improvement. True reconciliation is grounded in love, not fear. The Episcopal Church does offer private confession for anyone who seeks it or needs it, but private confession is not required for participation in the life of the church or to receive other sacraments.
Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained to special ministries within the community of ministers, the local congregation. All people in the Church are called to ministry, and God equips every person with unique gifts for ministry. Since bishops, priests, and deacons play a significant role in the church, the individual must undergo a lengthy discernment process, preparation, and training. Ordination makes no sense outside the life of the Church, and is a function of the community of believers.