What Are Sacraments?
The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. (Book of Common Prayer / Catechism, Pg 857)
While Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are held as the “two great sacraments of the Gospel” in the Episcopal Church, there are several sacraments that celebrate our growth in Christ.
Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the Body of Christ. The Episcopal Church baptizes infants, children and adults into this new life of grace in the risen Christ.
Preparation for baptism differs depending upon the age of the person seeking the sacrament. If the candidate is an infant or child, it is important for the parents to meet with one of the clergy to discuss the sacrament and the promises they will make to raise their child in the Christian faith and life. If the candidate is a youth or adult, we recommend being part of our catechumenate process. The catechumenate is:
- a time of preparation and discernment
- a time of learning about the basic elements of the Christian faith
The catechumenate is for youth and adults desiring to be baptized as well as youth and adults who are preparing for confirmation.
Confirmation / Reception
Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey where a person affirms the faith into which they have been baptized and states their intention to live a life of committed discipleship. This affirmation is confirmed through prayer and the laying on of hands by the bishop. The Church also asks God to give you power through the Holy Spirit to enable you to live in the way of Jesus.
Confirmation is for persons who have been baptized as young children and who wish to grow in their discipleship. Reception is for those who have previously been confirmed by a bishop in another tradition who now wish join the Episcopal Church. The journey to confirmation or reception begins with formation classes, regular worship and a life of prayer, and mentoring by other lay members of the church.
Holy Matrimony in the Episcopal Church is considered a sacrament – an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. As such we take very seriously the responsibility for supporting a couple who wish to be married in the Church.
The Episcopal Church requires that one member of the couple be a baptized Christian and that the couple receive premarital counseling. This generally involves 4-6 sessions with one of the clergy. Premarital counseling is intended to help couples explore their relationship within the context of Christian marriage, and to discuss any areas of concern with one of the clergy. Persons who are divorced may remarry in the Episcopal Church, but special attention will be given during premarital counseling regarding the obligations to any children or family members from a previous marriage.
The wedding ceremony is conducted according to the Book of Common Prayer. Because marriage is a sacrament and sacraments are public, weddings are public events in the church (receptions are invitation only). We encourage the congregation to come for the ceremony to support the couple being wed.
When a Christian dies, it is most appropriate that they be buried from the Church. The promise of the resurrection to new life in Jesus Christ begins in this life and is fully realized when we enter the larger life in God.
The Burial Office is a beautiful service which recognizes the very human grief we share at the loss of our loved one, but also proclaims the great hope of the resurrection given in Christ our Lord.
The Episcopal Church allows for both whole body burial or cremation. St. Mark’s has a columbarium, which is a place where the ashes of our loved ones have a final resting place. The garden beside the church, just off the courtyard between the church and parish hall is where our columbarium is located. Space in the columbarium is open to all people of goodwill. Contact one of the clergy for more information.