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What is baptism? Baptism is “the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God” (Book of Common Prayer, 858). In the teaching and practice of the Episcopal Church, baptism confers full membership and participation in the life of the Church. Baptism is thus about the community as much as it is about the individual. The Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer, 304-305) provides a concise account of the way Episcopalians understand baptism. The Covenant identifies baptism as a transformative event that results in new patterns of believing, belonging, and behaving in the lives of those who are baptized. In other words, the Covenant describes baptism as the beginning of a life of committed discipleship, a dedicated effort to conform one’s life to Christ. This is true both for those who are baptized and for those who serve as sponsors (parents, Godparents) of those who are baptized. There is no such thing as a private baptism. Adults and older children seeking baptism are sponsored by members of their families and close friends; infants and younger children are sponsored by members of their families and Godparents. In both cases, those being baptized are surrounded and affirmed by the community. Accordingly, all baptisms take place during public worship. Baptism is most appropriately administered as part of the celebration of the Eucharist during the principal service on a Sunday or other major observance (Book of Common Prayer, 298). Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day (or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day), and on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (Book of Common Prayer, 312). Baptism is also available at other times.
How do I prepare for baptism? In keeping with both the Book of Common Prayer and the Canons of the Episcopal Church, all candidates for baptism and their sponsors.
We are delighted that you are considering being married in the Christian Church and specifically at Saint John's Episcopal Church. For over 150 years our sacred spaces have been the setting for many splendid weddings. Should you choose Saint John's s the location for one of the most joyous and sacred days of your life there are a few items that we would like you to consider. The first consideration for you, as a couple, is to ask yourselves whether or not you want a Christian marriage or simply a place in which to be married. It is vital for couples planning to be married in the church to understand that Christian marriage implies a belief that God, through Jesus Christ, will play an important role in their new relationship and throughout their life together and the wedding service is the beginning of that remarkable journey. By having your wedding at Saint John's we hope that you will experience the deep and wonderful meaning of Christian marriage which can be lost when the church is reduced to no more than a beautiful setting for a ceremony. “Who may be married at Saint “Who may be married at Saint John's? Any man and woman, if: They are sincerely committed to establishing a Christian marriage; One of the two parties is baptized One of the two parties is presently a member, or whose parents, or grandparents are members of record of Saint John's, or as a couple you desire to become members of record at Saint John's. They are willing to conform to the good standards of our wedding policies and complete the pre marital class series, or its equivalent if currently living outside of the area.
If there has been a divorce for one or both parties intending to be married, permission of the Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas must be obtained. This upholds the Church’s pastoral responsibility to ensure that divorced persons fully comprehend the reasons for the failure of the first marriage. Therefore, a minimum of 3 months is needed between initiating the wedding paperwork and the date of the proposed wedding.
A Christian funeral is a difficult, yet reverent, mix of grief and joy. Joy, because we are confident in the promise of God that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, 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.” Consequently, the liturgy for the dead is properly an Easter Liturgy. It finds all meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be raised. Such joy, however, does not make our grief unchristian. Quite the contrary, our grief is an expression of our love. 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 one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn. At the time of death, people turn to the Church for rituals which allow them to recognize their loss, express their grief, remember and give thanks for the life of the one who has died, mark the end of relationships which exist in this life, allow them to seek strength and comfort in their faith, and provide dignity and meaning to the end of life. The rites of the Church are appropriate at several junctures in the passage from life into death. Long before death is a reality, the church can help people plan for the funeral and address other issues and concerns. Near the point of death, the Church can be present in a ministry to the dying person and his or her family and friends. After death, there is the funeral service and committal of the body to a final resting place.
Our clergy, staff, and lay volunteers will do all that we can to provide a fitting and meaning filled funeral for your loved one. We recognize that, upon the death of one we love, there are many arrangements to be made and concerns to be settled. Therefore, we will strive to make your experience here as easy and well-supported as possible. At the Time of Death Please call or text Fr. Ed at (903) 851-2493 to report a death. He is available 24 hours a day and is the most direct way to receive pastoral care at the time of death. Fr. Ed will make preliminary arrangements and contact the staff. About Grief All funerals are services in thankful memory for the life of the deceased. The Book of Common Prayer states that the body (casket or ashes) will be present for this thanksgiving. Saint John's clergy and those who have accomplished serious training on the reality of grief agree that this not only provides a way to honor the dead, but also begins the process of accepting the reality of death and a movement toward the healing of grief. Nonetheless, please know that a Memorial Service, the Burial Office without casket or ashes, is also acceptable.
The Book of Common Prayer prescribes that the coffin or urn be covered with a pall (an embroidered cloth provided by the parish) during the service. The use of the pall symbolizes a great truth at the heart of the church’s ministry: that we are all equal in God’s sight. Over the years, a pall has covered the remains of the celebrated and the unknown, each of whom is loved by God. If flowers or a flag is covering the casket when it arrives in the Narthex, the Altar Guild respectfully removes the covering for the service and replaces it as the casket is taken from the Church/Chapel. Flowers After the time of the service has been set by the family and the priest, the office will contact the family regarding their wishes about the service flowers. No extra adornment of flowers, pictures or mementoes are allowed in the Narthex or any worship space of the Church/Chapel. They may be placed in the area of the reception. If the family wishes the altar to be bare with no flowers at all, that is also an option. Funeral flowers remain in the church after the service.
Following the reading of the Gospel lesson, a homily (a brief sermon) is preached by one of the officiating clergy in consultation with the family. The homily in Christian traditions grows both out of the lessons chosen for the service and the life of the deceased. In the service, we come together before God with our grief, our questions, our hopes, and our most valued feelings as Christians. Thus, to bring together the life of the deceased with the hope of the Church, it is especially important for family members and friends to share with the officiating clergy those aspects of the deceased’s life for which we are giving thanks. A brief reflection (no longer than five minutes) may be offered by a pre-arranged family member or friend. The best reflections are written in advance and help those gathered to remember the best character qualities of the deceased—the ways in which the person helped family and friends see God’s love and grace. Attending the Family Approximately a half hour prior to the service, family and close friends are asked to gather in the designated area. After being greeted by the officiating clergy, they will be conducted to the front seats of the Chapel by the officiating clergy or a Parish Verger. At the conclusion of the service, family and friends in the front of the Church are escorted out, in advance of the congregation’s departure.
Music makes a vast contribution to the richness and meaning of the service. A parish organist is available to play for funerals and is available to make any other music arrangements. If desired, a soloist, a choir, and/or instrumentalists are available for an extra fee. Hymns are strongly encouraged from The Hymnal 1982 to be included in the design of the service as congregational singing helps in the grieving process and allow one to participate more fully in the service. Listed in this document are suitable hymns which may be sung at appropriate points in the service. Only sacred music (music written for Christian worship) is allowed.
The Burial Office generally includes four lessons, one from the Old Testament, one from the Psalms, one from the Epistles, and one from the Gospels. One or two Psalms may be used after one or more of the lessons. They may be said by the whole congregation in unison or read by a reader designated by the family. Non-scriptural readings are generally discouraged. However, readings which relate to the sacred may be used, but only after consultation with and permission from the officiating clergy. Scriptural suggestions are included with this document.
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