SACRAMENTS & SACRAMENTAL RITES
What is a Sacrament?
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. The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist.
As a Christian tradition, The Episcopal Church also observers five sacramental
rites in addition to sacraments. We believe these rites help us on spiritual
journey of faith and serve as means of grace. These include:
Confirmation: the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows
Reconciliation of a Penitent: private confession
Holy Matrimony: Christian marriage (opposite-sex and same-sex couples)
Holy Orders: ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopacy
Unction: the anointing of those who are sick or dying with holy oil
See below for more information and contact the church office (410-461-7793) to inquire about speaking with the clergy about preparation for these sacraments and sacramental rites.
Holy Baptism is the way God adopts us as his children, makes us members of Christ’s body, and passes on to us the care and stewardship of God’s life in this world. In Baptism, “the outward and visible sign is water, in which the person is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; the inward and spiritual grace is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.” (https://episcopalchurch.org/sacraments).
Holy Baptism is appropriate and available for all ages: infants, young children, and adults. Individuals and families prepare for baptism by participating in classes, meeting with the clergy, and becoming members of St. John’s.
Baptism is typically celebrated with the Holy Eucharist on these Sundays: Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (January); one Sunday in winter; Easter Vigil (March or April); Pentecost (May or June); one to two Sundays in summer; one Sunday in fall; and All Saint’s Sunday (November).
Adults may wish to reaffirm their commitment to Christ through confirmation or renewal of their baptismal promises. Conversation with clergy, study, and preparation will lead you to a deeper relationship with God and others in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Eucharist is the primary sacrament that nourishes, sustains, and deeply connects us to the saving works of Jesus Christ. The “outward and visible sign is bread and wine, given and received according to Christ’s command. The inward and spiritual grace is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith.” (https://episcopalchurch.org/sacraments)
St. John’s youth are confirmed at the end of their J2A (Journey to Adulthood) experience, when they are in 9th or 10 grade. J2A seeks to provide young people with a lively experience within the Body of Christ, so they can make informed decisions about their recommitment to Christ as children of God. More information about Youth Faith Formation
St. John’s adults are invited to attend Foundations of Faith, a course in living the Christian life in the Episcopal and Anglican tradition for adults 18 and over. This preparation is for adults wishing to be baptized, confirmed, or received into the Episcopal Church.
Those who have been sacramentally confirmed in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches are received and others are confirmed. Those who have returned from a time of religious inactivity to an active practice of faith may publicly reaffirm their baptismal vows. Others who have experienced a renewal of faith or desire to renew their Christian commitment may reaffirm their baptismal vows.
Confirmation for St. John’s parishioners takes place in May, either in our historic church (in alternate years) or in another diocesan parish. The bishop is present and lays hands on or offers blessing to those being confirmed, received, or reaffiming their vows.
Congratulations! Celebrating your engagement and planning for marriage is an exciting time. Holy Matrimony in the Episcopal Church is a sacramental rite, a particular way God shares God's love with us and blesses the commitment made in marriage, and is open to opposite and same-sex couples. The bond of marriage is nourished and sustained through this gift of God’s love on your wedding day as well as through the Christian community where you are an active participant.
Couples prepare for marriage by becoming members of St. John’s typically six months before the wedding, attending premarital preparation meetings with the clergy, and attending the Marriage Preparation Weekend. Contact the church office for an appointment.
Following a death, please call the clergy first, prior to making any arrangements. Clergy will guide those in mourning through the planning process, and should be consulted prior to setting a date, time, or location for funeral services. Remember, too, that parishioners are encouraged to pre-plan arrangements. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, or would like help with planning a funeral, please contact church office.