Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, & Funerals
Baptism, Confirmation, Weddings, and Funerals
Our time is in God's hands. There is not a moment of our life that is not sacred and touched by God. Many of those moments from birth to death can be marked in ritual and sacramental ways in our faith community.
Baptism is initiation into the Body of Christ and welcome into the household of God, that is, the community of faith in Christ Jesus. We can be baptized at any age of life, from newborn to the moments before drawing our final breath. Adults and older children may be baptized when they are ready to state publicly their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Younger children and infants are baptized with the understanding that they will be raised in the Christian faith and be able to affirm their faith in Christ when they are confirmed.
Baptism is a spiritual birth, our second birth when we are born again. Just as we are born physically only once, so we are baptized (our spiritual birth) only once. Therefore, the Episcopal Church recognizes any baptism done with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We baptize children and adults during our regular worship, and certain celebrations of the church year are especially appropriate for baptism, such as Easter and Pentecost. Except in the case of extraordinary circumstances, it is desirable that candidates seeking Holy Baptism, and parents of young children to be baptized, be prepared in advance. Therefore, if you desire baptism for yourself or your child, please contact the church office at least 1 month before the desired baptismal date.
Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation
Those who have been baptized as young children are encouraged to make a mature, public affirmation of their faith in the presence of the Bishop and receive the laying on of hands for a blessing for their continued growth in Christ. This is called Confirmation. By "mature, public affirmation of faith," we mean committing ourselves to the promises our parents and sponsors made for us in our Baptismal Covenant: In other words, "My parents raised me this way, and now I take responsibility myself and publicly affirm my faith in Christ." The Bishop lays hands on the confirmand's head in an ancient sign of blessing and says a prayer that the Holy Spirit will strengthen the individual to be faithful to the Christian way of life.
"Reception" (i.e., being received into the Episcopal Church) is for Christians wishing to join the Episcopal Church but who have been confirmed in another denomination of the Christian faith.
"Reaffirmation" of our baptismal vows is a rite by which those who have been baptized and confirmed re-commit themselves to the Christian life. It is especially appropriate for those who have returned to the Church after an extended absence and for those persons who have experienced a significant spiritual awakening.
Weddings - Christian Marriage
The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is a solemn and joyous ritual marking the public commitment of a couple to a common life under the vows of marriage. A couple seeking to be married in church should speak with the clergy at least four months before the planned marriage date. Before marriage in the Episcopal Church the couple must attend counseling and marriage preparation sessions with a priest.
In the Episcopal Church, those who have been divorced may enter into a second marriage with the written permission of the Bishop. The Bishop relies on the wisdom of the priest performing the marriage in granting permission.
In the Diocese of New Jersey, same-gender couples may also be married in the church. The same preparation is required as in the case of heterosexual couples.
The body’s physical death is a reality we all face as human creatures. Yet it is one of the most emotionally difficult subjects for us to talk about or prepare for. At the time of death, families and loved ones experience some of the most stressful moments of their lives. It becomes difficult to make decisions and remember all the details that need to be attended to in a short time. Planning a funeral in advance is a loving thing to do and ensures that an individual’s wishes can be known and honored.
We have prepared a funeral planning document designed to help individuals think through decisions relating to their funeral and burial as well as provide a check-list of other key decisions and documents needed at the time of death. It is written primarily for Episcopalians at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, but others, Christians and non-Christians, may also find parts of it useful.
Once you have read through the document and completed the forms, we suggest making at least four copies: one for you, one for your church, one for you attorney, and one to keep with your Last Will. Parish clergy are always happy to discuss any part of the planning process with you.