Our Sacramental Life
The Holy Eucharist
At the center of our parish life is the Holy Eucharist, the identifying act of the Christian community. It is the principal act of worship on the Lord’s Day and other major Feasts. The Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s resurrection and his ongoing presence at work among us. In the Eucharist, Jesus continues to live in us and we in him. At St. Paul’s we offer a Radical Welcome from the Steps to the Table. Everyone is welcome to receive the Eucharist—no matter who they are or where they may be on their journey of faith.
Holy Baptism is the sacrament in which God adopts us as God’s children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. The Sacrament of Baptism is administered on five specific days during the year: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January), The Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Day (March/April), Pentecost (May/June), and the Sunday of All Saints (November). For good pastoral reasons, baptism may be administered on other Sundays, but it is always celebrated as part of the Sunday Eucharist and in the presence of the entire congregation. Baptism is not administered during Advent and Lent.
We offer three informational session to parents, family members, and godparents (if they are able to attend) in order to explain the meaning of Baptism and to help parents support their children in their faith journey. Those interested in Baptism may contact the Reverend Cindy Stravers (Tel 203 847-2806 x16)
Communion to the Sick and Homebound
The Sacrament of Holy Communion is always available to those who are unable to come to church because of temporary or long-term illness. Members of our clergy and Lay Eucharistic Ministers bring the Holy Eucharist on a monthly basis to long-term homebound members. Please call the church office to arrange for this.
Reconciliation of Penitents: The Sacrament of Confession
Those who come from different religious traditions often ask Does the Episcopal Church believe in confession? The answer is yes, but not necessarily in the same way they may have experienced it in other churches. Reconciliation is the ministry that Jesus commended to his Church. At one time or other, we all need to be reconciled. We do it in a number of ways. First, at almost every Holy Eucharist, we make a confession of sin (what Episcopalians call the General Confession). Following this prayer of confession, the priest pronounces an absolution in the name of the Church. In celebration of the knowledge that Christ has died for us and has forgiven all our sins, we give and receive the Peace.
There is also a rite in the Prayer Book for private, individual confession of our sins to the priest. There may be times in our lives when we feel the need to do this or when our priest suggests it as a way of more fully experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness. Anything we disclose to the priest in this confession is completely confidential. Clergy are bound by what is known by the seal of confession which prohibits the priest from divulging anything heard in this sacramental rite.
Finally, there may be communal celebrations of the Rite of Reconciliation (sometimes combined with the Rite of Healing) in which we gather to reflect on the nature of sin, examine ourselves in terms of our own faults, and receive individual absolution from the clergy.
To sum all this up, the Episcopal Church believes the following about the need to go to individual, private confession: All may, some should, none must.
Confirmation and Reception
Confirmation is the sacramental rite in which a person makes a mature affirmation of his or her faith and renews the commitment to live by the promises of the baptismal covenant. In confirmation, we receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit for the work of ministry. Confirmation is administered by the Bishop. There is a period of study and preparation required before one is able to be confirmed.
Reception is the rite in which a person who has already been baptized and made a mature affirmation of their faith in another Christian denomination is formally received into the Episcopal Church by the Bishop. This is an annual opportunity and there are informational sessions offered each year to help those interested become more familiar with the Episcopal Church.
Weddings & Blessings of Heterosexual and Same-Sex Couples
The marriage and blessing of two people is a holy union; a lifelong, spiritual commitment. It begins with your desire to form a lasting, life-long partnership with another in God’s love, and continues throughout your lives as a process of intentional living and growing together. In this holy union, each of you as an individual, and together as a couple, gradually transform and mature in God’s presence and image. St. Paul’s celebrates with joy the blessing of unions of both heterosexual and lesbian and gay couples.
By uniting within the context of a faith community, you recognize that God is active in the love you feel for one another, and you place your relationship in God’s care. Your individual stories – and your story as a couple are celebrated in the context of the story of God and God’s ways with the human community, as understood within a particular community of faith.
Through this sacramental rite, you as a couple enter into a life-long commitment. You make your vows before God and the gathered community of family, friends and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help you fulfill your vows. The exchange of your vows and holy union is a sacrament – an outward and visible expression of God’s grace in bringing you together and nurturing your love. For further information, please contact the Rector, The Rev’d Nicholas Lang.
Our Healing Ministry
At St. Paul’s, we offer Healing Ministry every Sunday at the principal Holy Eucharist. Everyone is invited to come forward and to pray with clergy and lay members of our healing ministry for any kind of healing—physical, emotional, spiritual—including such needs as healing of relationships, memories, and freedom from addictions.
A large part of Jesus’ ministry and the ministry he passed on to his disciples involved healing of all kinds. The Rite of Healing consists of prayers for healing of body, mind, and spirit, and is accompanied by the laying-on of hands and anointing with holy oil, as the Scripture suggests in James 5:14-16. At St. Paul’s, we offer healing prayer and anointing with holy oil every Sunday for any kind of healing-physical, emotional, spiritual-and including such needs as freedom from addictions and healing of broken relationships.
The Rite of Healing is also available whenever one is ill, anticipating surgery, or feels the need to receive this sacrament. Please ask the clergy about this.
Ministration at the Time of Death
When a loved one is dying, it is appropriate to call the clergy to pray with them and family and friends who may be present. The Prayer Book includes a litany and other prayers for this purpose. This can be a very comforting experience both for the dying person and those anticipating his or her loss.
No one is refused burial from St. Paul’s Church. Please contact the clergy if you need to arrange for a burial service. This may be a solemn, joyful celebration of the Eucharist as we experience on Sundays, or it may be a quiet service in the church, funeral home, or at the grave site.
It is a blessing to family when the deceased has prepared specific directions for funeral preferences. Forms for this purpose are available from the church office. Selecting such things as music and readings takes a burden off family and makes the Rite of Christian Burial a more personal event.
St. Paul’s has a lovely Memorial Garden for the interment of ashes. There are plots available. Please call the parish office if you would like further information.