As Episcopalians, we define a sacrament as “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace” (BCP 857). The Episcopal Church puts special emphasis on the two great sacraments of the Gospel given by Christ to the Church, Baptism and Eucharist. We also celebrate the other important rites which evolved in the Church, such as confirmation, reconciliation, marriage, anointing and ordination.
Baptisms and weddings are among the most joyful liturgies we undertake in a congregation. Baptism, is one of the two primary sacraments in the catholic Church. (The other is our regular celebration of the Holy Eucharist.) We place the baptismal liturgy in the very center of our weekly worship, as a symbol of its importance and as a visual reminder of the connection between the newly baptized and the Christian community that surrounds him or her.
At Trinity, the baptismal font is centrally located in the aisle as you walk in for worship, emphasizing its importance to us. Trinity offers baptism to adults, as well as children whose parents wish for them to be baptized. Prior to the day, the priest will offer one or more instructional sessions for the families and godparents, in order to provide an opportunity to reflect on the theology of baptism and to plan for the service. It is important to note that the priest and parish assume that the person preparing for baptism is either a member of the parish prior to baptism or has the intention of becoming involved as preparation begins.
The Sacrament of baptism assumes an ongoing life in Christian community, so that the members of the body of Christ in this place might encourage a ministry to one another. Our Book of Common Prayer calls baptism “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church.” The Episcopal Church recognizes all baptisms. If you would like to have your child baptized at Trinity, please come visit and worship with us for a few months to “try us out,” and to see if you’d like Trinity to be your spiritual home. Then, please contact our priest to talk and to arrange a time to plan for the service. The sacrament of baptism fits best into the holy days of Easter, Pentecost, All Saints Day (the Sunday after November 1), and the Baptism of Jesus (the Sunday after January 6), but other days can easily be arranged. Please note, we do not celebrate baptisms during the season of Lent. It is customary for families to offer a monetary gift to the parish, in thanksgiving for the offering of church resources to them. As with any offering to the Church, the size of this gift is less important than the spirit with which it is given. If you are an adult seeking baptism, please be in touch with our priest and we can plan for a time of formation.
We use the terms Holy Eucharist and Holy Communion interchangeably. Everyone is welcome to receive the Eucharist, both bread and wine at any age. We offer education on the meaning of Communion to children in the regular course of our children’s education, understanding that a child’s faith can sometimes be wiser than the most seasoned understanding of what happens at the altar. If you are not baptized, we encourage you to consider taking that step and speak with us, but you are welcome to participate fully in the Eucharist as you feel called into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. For those who are unable to attend church due to illness or physical challenges, arrangements can be made to have a Communion service at home.
Confirmation training is offered for anyone who wants to know more about the Episcopal Church. In the Episcopal Church teenagers are usually prepared for confirmation in the tenth or eleventh grade. For adults who wish to be confirmed or, if already confirmed in another faith, received into the Episcopal Church, we offer education and training is as needed.
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; in your compassion forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things done and left undone and so uphold us by your Spirit that we may live and serve you in newness of life, to the honor and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Episcopal Church the sacrament of Reconciliation or confession is given as a community together on Sunday mornings. Confession one-on-one with a priest is offered is you wish but it is not mandatory; the forgiveness we are granted together on Sunday mornings in offering the prayer of Confession is sufficient. This is a corporate (community) statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
Holy Matrimony is another of the several sacraments of the Church. In the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the sacrament of marriage is open couples regardless of sexual orientation and we welcome any couples who seek to be married in our Church. We require that all entering into marriage receive premarital counseling and that one partner be baptized. Divorced persons may also be eligible for remarriage with additional preparation sessions. Permission for remarriage after divorce must be requested from our bishop, but is not a barrier for marriage in the Episcopal Church. The priest will invite the couple who intend to be married into a time of preparation, ideally in advance of the day. If you are interested in being married at Trinity, please contact our priest at least four to six months in advance. The wedding itself might be conducted in the Church or at another location.
Trinity has established a fee policy for wedding, available from the Church office. It is customary for families to offer a monetary gift to the parish, in thanksgiving for the offering of church resources to them. As with any offering to the Church, the size of this gift is less important than the spirit with which it is given. We also offer wedding packages, allowing the use of our outdoor chapel, church hall and organist.
Anointing is the rite of blessing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body. It is included in the “Last Rites” often given to those who are dying. Healing services, where people are prayed for and anointed are also offered at Trinity.
Funerals and Memorial Services
A funeral marks the close of a human life on earth. It is the opportunity for friends and family to express their grief, to give thanks for the life which has now completed its journey in this world.
In the Episcopal tradition, the liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8) This joy, however, does not make human grief un-Christian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that the one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we join in sorrow and sympathy with those who mourn.
Baptized Christians are properly buried from the Church. The service should be held at a time when the family has an opportunity to be present. As far as the Church is concerned there is no difference between having the body present in a casket or as ashes in an urn. The casket is to be closed before the service, and it remains closed thereafter. It is appropriate that it be covered with a pall.
Ordination is the rite where people are “set apart” for ordained ministry as a deacon, priest, or bishop. While all baptized members are ministers of the church, some individuals feel called by God to express their ministry in a particular way. Deacons and priests discern their call to ordained ministry through the support and sponsorship of their local parish, through a process with the diocesan Commission on Ministry. Deacons are trained locally by the diocese, while priests typically attend seminary to receive a Master of Divinity before they can be ordained. Bishops are elected by the diocese and are voted on by resident clergy and lay representatives from each parish.