Sacraments & Services

A Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. It is given by Christ as a means to attain that grace. It is something outside of one which can be seen, symbolizing an action going on within individuals and within the body of the followers of Jesus. The two great sacraments of the Gospel, Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist, are the essential parts of our life in Christ, representing (in Baptism) our incorporation into Christ’s Body, the Church; and (in Eucharist) the ongoing nurture we need in order to function as Jesus’ representatives or “ministers” in the world. The five other sacramental rites, Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of the Penitent, and Healing/Unction, are means of grace, but are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and Eucharist are.

Calvary celebrates several other services within the life of the parish, including a brief service to give thanks for the birth or adoption of a new baby, and burial services for deceased members of the parish or their families.

Baptism | Holy Eucharist | Confession | Confirmation | Marriage |
Healing/Unction | Burial

Baptism

Holy Baptism is an outward and visible sign of the gift that is God's relationship with us, proclaimed and modeled for us by Jesus.  It is one of the two great sacraments of the Gospel and an essential part of our life in Christ, representing full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body, the Church. Candidates for baptism are presented by a sponsor.  In the baptism of a young child, we call the sponsors godparents. Sponsors are already-baptized persons who signify their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Godparents take vows on behalf of their candidates, and by their influence and example are expected to see that the children are brought up in the Christian faith and life. We suggest that at least one of the godparents be a family member or close friend with whom you will not lose touch; and that one be an active member of Calvary Church, with whom your child can have a special connection as he or she grows up in this worshiping community. Having three godparents is traditional, two to four works just fine. At Calvary, we hold a class for parents and godparents before each scheduled baptism.  Then, usually on the day before the baptism is held, we schedule a rehearsal to be attended by parents and godparents together. Even parents who have “done it before” are expected to attend. New parents sometimes learn from those familiar with this experience.

All baptisms at Calvary (except in extreme emergencies) are held on Sunday mornings. They are usually scheduled on major feast days—Pentecost (in May or June) when the Holy Spirit descended on the first disciples, the Sunday after All Saints Day (November 1), the Baptism of Jesus (the first Sunday after the Epiphany, January 6), and the Great Vigil of Easter (usually held in the darkness on Saturday night or early on Easter Day). Often, an additional day is added in late summer. Sometimes children are baptized at the same time their parents are being confirmed or officially received into the Episcopal Church. To learn more about baptism, or to sign up for an upcoming baptism class, please contact Ebet Peeples or a member of the clergy.

Holy Eucharist

Holy Eucharist is the sacrament in which the soul is nourished with spiritual food; through it one receives spiritual sustenance and is renewed in one’s life in Christ. A keen Christian leader once remarked that the Eucharist is the repeatable part of baptism. Jesus commanded this sacrament for the continual remembrance of his life, death and resurrection, until his coming again. Holy Eucharist also is known as Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, and the Mass. Bread and wine are the visible signs of the Eucharist; the body and blood of Christ, received by faith, become the inward and spiritual signs of grace. Through the Eucharist, we receive the forgiveness of our sins and strengthen our union with Christ and one another.

Receiving communion together is a regular part of our worship life. All baptized people who desire a closer relationship with Jesus are invited to come forward to the altar rail or to one of the standing communion stations. There are two ways to receive the sacrament: the bread followed by a sip from the common cup, or the bread only, with arms folded across the chest afterwards. Baptized children are welcome to receive Communion when they are old enough to desire it. Please help them learn to hold their hands high to receive the Bread and to say “Amen” to the words of administration. If you are not baptized or want to come forward without receiving communion, you may come to the altar rail to receive a blessing. Simply cross your arms over your chest as you kneel or stand.

Confession/Reconciliation

Episcopalians are realistic about human nature. We know we are imperfect and that we can profit from practicing regular self-examination. Part of looking honestly at ourselves involves coming face-to-face with our sins, our failure to love as we should and could. What do we do with this unhappy reality? We carry it to the God who made us and loves us, knowing that God is even more eager than we are for us to put our sins behind us and grow in the art of loving. We may choose to do this privately. God is ever-willing to hear and forgive. But many of us find that having another person hear our sins and affirm God’s forgiveness is helpful. It helps to make our repentance– and God’s forgiveness –tangible and available to be celebrated. In the Episcopal Church, the job of hearing our confessions and proclaiming God’s forgiveness is assigned to our priests. They are trained for this and they are part of a long tradition of priestly confidentiality. Any one of Calvary’s priests will be happy to hear your confession, done at the altar rail in the empty church. Just call the church Office, 901-525-6602, for an appointment. The forms we use can found in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) on page 447 and following. We corporately make confession almost every Sunday as we celebrate the Eucharist together (BCP pg. 360).  This is a poignant reminder that we gather as forgiven sinners, empowered to serve the world through God's gracious love.

Confirmation

In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a public affirmation of their faith and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. Those baptized as adults are also expected to do the same. The laying on of hands by the bishop is symbolic of the spiritual strengthening to resist evil and lead a Christian life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Contact Ebet Peeples for information on upcoming confirmation classes and dates.

Marriage

Calvary Episcopal Church honors the union of two persons in marriage with a ceremony that is both solemn and joyous. As a couple exchanges vows, the pledge to love each other in the same way that Christ loves the Church, and to live in faithfulness as God is faithful to His people. If you are engaged or partnered and would like to explore celebrating your marriage at Calvary, one of our clergy will be happy to meet with you. Call the church office, 901-525-6602, for an appointment. 

Calvary's Wedding Guidelines

Healing/Unction

We believe that when one of God’s people is ill in body, mind, or spirit, God is even more eager than we are for that person to be restored to health and to get back to the work God is calling them to do. For over two thousand years, Christians have found it helpful to pray together for God’s gift of healing. Holy Unction is the rite whereby the sick or someone praying on behalf of the sick is anointed with oil for spiritual and bodily healing. Oil was chosen as the outward symbol because it has from ancient times been a healing agent and a sign of God’s favor and blessing. The sacramental rite proclaims God’s power to heal the whole person. When it is administered to people who desire healing, the oil of Holy Unction can help to predispose their minds to health and hope, and to center their trust in God, the Great Physician. In Holy Unction, we anoint the person for whom we are praying with oil, an ancient sign of God’s healing power. The sign of the cross is made on the forehead, reminding us of the anointing done at baptism when we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit…and marked as Christ’s own forever.” This prayer is often accompanied by the laying on of hands, where the presiding priest (and a number of lay people, if available) place their hands on the head of the sick person or intercessor. Healing prayer is offered frequently in hospitals, homes, and offices.

Burial Services

While death comes to us all, the death of a loved one can be an emotional and difficult time. The clergy at Calvary Church consider it a privilege to walk with you and your family through the days before and after the death of a family member.

At the Time of Death

Members of the clergy are available to provide the rituals and sacraments of the church for those who are dying. They can provide Holy Communion for those who are still able to receive it, anointing for those who are dying, and prayers of commendation for those who have died.  The clergy may be reached by calling the church office, 901-525-6602. After hours, an office automated answering system gives an emergency number. The Litany at the Time of Death (The Book of Common Prayer pg. 462-467) is an order of prayers and blessings that can be adapted to fit all situations and even repeated when a situation, for the sake of family peace or individual comfort, warrants it.  

Burial

The death of a member of the church should be reported as soon as possible and arrangements for the funeral made in consultation with one of Calvary's clergy. The clergy may be reached by calling the church office, 901-525-6602. After hours, an office automated answering system gives an emergency number.  Because we recognize that all persons contacting the church about a death may not be Christians, Episcopalians, or familiar with how to plan a service celebrating the life of their loved one, clergy and church staff work very closely with the designated family representative to plan a service that honors the individual and respects the family and friends while remaining true to the understanding of death and dying that arises out of Christian tradition. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP, pg. 507) describes our perspective on the burial rite: "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.'" This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. 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."

Burial Rite

The Book of Common Prayer offers two orders of service for burial. The Rite I service (BCP pg. 469-489) uses a more traditional, formal language. The Rite II service (BCP pg. 491-505) uses modern language and permits a personalization of the service that the Rite I liturgy does not allow. We encourage use of the Rite II service, particularly if the service will be attended by persons unfamiliar with the Episcopal tradition.

Coffins

All coffins are closed before entering the church, and they may not be adorned with floral sprays. All coffins are covered with a linen pall (or flag as appropriate) before being brought into the church proper. The use of a pall signifies the equality each individual has in the eyes of God.

Columbarium

Calvary Church’s columbarium is located in the Courtyard of St. Francis of Assisi, adjoining the Great Hall. It is for the interment of the ashes of deceased members of the congregation and their families. Each niche in the columbarium can hold two urns. To purchase a niche or memorial block, please contact Katie Owen.

Advance Preparation

At Calvary, we encourage our members to prepare in advance to make their death as easy as possible for those who remain and those who have responsibility for carrying out their wishes. Such planning includes: reviewing one's financial position and consulting an attorney about any estate planning or distribution options; looking at the Burial Rite in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP pg. 468-489 for Rite I and pg. 490-505 for Rite II) and meeting with Calvary’s clergy about how the church will celebrate your life; and having a conversation with one's family about end-of-life decisions and desires. To schedule a time to meet with a member of the clergy to plan a burial service in advance, contact Ebet Peeples.