Life's Big Events
There are events in a person's life that draw them to a faith community—-sometimes for a brief moment and sometimes in wonderful, rich and lifelong ways. If you are at one of these points, you may have questions about the church’s role in these events. Please read on about these important sacraments and how we might experience them together.
In baptism, we celebrate the life of an adult or a child as a gift from God. Through baptism we receive the assurance that God wants to love us into freedom and will constantly offer us the grace we need to grow and thrive.
We respond to God’s gift of saving love with commitment. In our Baptismal vows we promise to lead a life in the model of Christ, a life of compassion, spiritual growth, seeking after and worshiping God, serving our neighbors and working for social justice. The church community promises to support us in this path. In baptism we promise to take our place in the community by adding our gifts and strengths and bringing our hopes and needs into body of Christ.
Baptism is a ritual of entrance into the body of Christ and into a life set apart from the “wide path” of the world. At Holy Nativity, baptism is not a naming ceremony, a magical “get out jail free” card or a family tradition. Baptism is instead a deep and rich symbol of God’s loving commitment and our grateful response. That response is called discipleship.
- attend worship regularly
- receive instruction from an adult mentor in the congregation
- attend the Setting Our Hearts class
- attend worship regularly
- attend pre-baptismal preparation
- attend the Setting Our Hearts class
Weddings & Commitment Ceremonies
In life-long covenanted relationships we experience the nurturing and healing love of God through the committed love of our life-partner. We are loved and we give love. We challenge each other to grow and we accept each other as limited and flawed human beings. Our relationship becomes a source of life for children, our wider families and for our community. Weddings and Commitment Ceremonies are sacred because two people are giving themselves in trust, love and faith to each other.
The premarital process at Holy Nativity begins with a meeting between the couple and our priest. Our first goal is to get to know you and to understand your life story as a couple and as individuals. At each step of the process we will use inter-personal meetings to clarify expectations and prepare you for a healthy life-long bond of love.
All covenanted relationships need the support of friends and a wider spiritual community. We ask all couples seeking to be married or have a commitment ceremony at Holy Nativity to attend worship here regularly for at least one month before beginning premarital preparation. We hope you will use this period of time to decide whether Holy Nativity is the community for you.
After worshiping here for a month or more, we require that you initiate premarital planning with the clergy at least six months before the desired date of your wedding or commitment ceremony. Please do not schedule your wedding date before this meeting. This period of time will be used for premarital preparation with either the clergy or with a professional counselor recommended by the clergy. The couple is expected to worship at Holy Nativity throughout their premarital preparation.
If you choose to have your wedding or commitment ceremoney at Holy Nativity, you and the clergy will complete a Statement of Understanding together. At this point, you can choose to join the church by attending worship regularly and making a financial pledge of support, or you can choose not to join and pay $700 for use of the church and clergy and additional fees for the organist, custodian, etc. Premarital counseling is required. We suggest the Imago Marriage Workshop for all people preparing for marriage.
The remarriage of divorced persons is permitted in the Episcopal Church in certain cases permitted by Canon Law. Divorced people seeking remarriage in the Episcopal Church are reminded that sufficient time (at least three months) must be allowed for securing the required papers and the permission of the Bishop. We do not do marriages for those seeking to avoid the annulment process, unless your intention is to become an Episcopalian. Inter-faith marriages are welcome as long as one person in the couple is a Baptized Christian.
In communion we are offered the free gift of mystical connection with Christ in our souls and in the gathered community. The grace and mystery of the sacrament are such that we are always growing into a deeper understanding of the bread and the wine. We believe that the love Jesus expressed when he gave us the gift of communion was for all people and so all people, regardless of age or religious affiliation, are welcome at communion at Holy Nativity.
We believe that children understand communion in their own way and so they are welcome at the table as soon as they are ready to stick out their hands to receive the bread. Grace does not depend on cognition or ‘right thinking’ to reach our hearts.
At Holy Nativity, all are welcome to receive communion.
Confirmation, Reception, Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows
Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows are all ways for a person to declare or reaffirm an adult commitment to the person and ways of Jesus Christ and to ask for the community’s support in this decision. Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows are liturgical rituals intended for people who are already baptized. We welcome adults and youth older than 16 to request the rite of Confirmation if they feel it would strengthen their discipleship. Reception is for baptized Christians who were raised in a tradition other than the Episcopal Church and who would like to be officially received as a member of the Episcopal Church. Full membership at Holy Nativity does not require one to be received into the Episcopal Church, but if this is a meaningful step in your spiritual journey, you are welcome. Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows is for adults who have been confirmed but who wish to reaffirm their commitments as a disciple of Christ. People seeking reaffirmation may be returning to the community of faith following a time apart, or they may be on the other side of a particularly spiritually challenging or rich period and want to mark that spiritual growth with a public reaffirmation of their faith about their intentions. Individuals seeking confirmation, reaffirmation, or reception may consult with the clergy. The clergy will work with you to find a course of study and formation leading to confirmation by one of our Diocesan Bishops.
A service of burial is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which reminds us that Christ has broken the bonds of death. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. However, this does not mean that real human grief does not accompany death. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. The service of burial also gives us the opportunity to say good-bye, to say thank you, to seek hope and comfort and even to seek healing or forgiveness when we struggle with loose ends in our relationship with the deceased. We gather to remember and celebrate the life of our loved one and to let ourselves mourn the loss within the comforting context of our hope in life eternal with God.
The clergy at Holy Nativity are on call to minister to the sick and the dying. We are glad to come to your home or the hospital to pray, talk and share the sacraments. We are also ready to accompany you to the funeral home to advise you as you make preparations. Wakes are strongly encouraged as they provide time for support and connection with friends and family. Often stories are told and we learn so much more about the meaning of the life of our loved one. Church members may choose to have the wake at the church.
The surviving family is encouraged to personalize the funeral service. Family members and friends may speak about the life of the deceased, chose readings, music and even physical artifacts – a flag for example – that evoke memories of the person we celebrate. The church is available for receptions after the funeral and we do have an outdoor columbarium for the internment of ashes.
Please, do not schedule a funeral before contacting the clergy. Our organist is available to plan and play for funerals at a charge of $150.