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The Sacraments

Baptism and Holy Communion 

In the Episcopal Church, we take part in certain regular acts of worship. These are called sacraments or reenactments of Christ’s ministries on earth. The two primary sacraments are Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. We believe that God is actively present in the world and in us. In the sacraments, we realize His presence and His favor towards us. Through the sacraments, which are freely given to us by God, our sins are forgiven, our minds are enlightened, our hearts stirred and our wills strengthened. These sacraments are contained in the worship services found in The Book of Common Prayer, a book used for worship services and as a guide for Christian life. A complete outline of the Episcopal faith can be found on pages 845-862 of The Book of Common Prayer. Your questions are encouraged and always welcome. 

What is Holy Baptism? 

Baptism is the means by which we become members of the community of believers, defined in the New Testament as the Body of Christ. Just as John the Baptist baptized Jesus with water, we include people in the community of faith by baptizing them with water. Following a series of questions, responses and prayers, the priest pours water on the candidate. The sign of the cross is made on the forehead with oil blessed by the Bishop. In the Episcopal Church, a person is baptized only once. For more information about baptism at Saint James, please contact the parish office at (423) 638-6583 for a baptismal application. 

What is Holy Communion? 

It is a reenactment of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his death on the cross. Any baptized person is welcome to share in this meal of bread and wine. 

What are the other sacraments? 

They are confirmation, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, unction, and ordination. 

What is Confirmation? 

Confirmation is when a baptized person, who has been instructed in the Christian faith, makes a mature commitment to God within a worship setting and receives a special blessing and prayer from a bishop. More… 

What is Holy Matrimony? 

Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which a man and a woman enter into a lifelong union and make their promises before God in a worship service. More… 

What is Reconciliation of a Penitent? 

While private confession of sins is not a requirement, anyone may request the reconciliation of a penitent from a priest and receive assurance of God’s forgiveness. The confession is always made in private and kept in strict confidence. 

What is Unction?

Unction is a special blessing for those who are sick or desire special prayers. A sign of the cross is made on their forehead with blessed oil. 

What is Ordination?

Ordination is the sacrament where God empowers trained persons for special ministry as deacons, priests, or bishops. The service always includes the laying on of hands by bishops (apostolic succession).

Ministration at the Time of Death 

Arrangements may be made before one's passing. If this is done, the parish office will keep a record of the arrangements file. Other requests, such as specific hymns sung at your memorial or special readings that one would like, may be arranged and kept on file as well. For more information, please contact the parish office.

(adapted from Saint John's Episcopal Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY)