Baptism is 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.
Baptisms at Calvary are held on Sunday mornings. They are usually scheduled on major feast days—Pentecost (in May or June), the Sunday after All Saints’ Day (in November), the Baptism of Jesus (in January), and the Great Vigil of Easter (the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday).
To learn more about baptism, or to sign up for an upcoming baptism class, please contact Ebet Peeples or a member of the clergy.
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. Holy Eucharist also is known as Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, and the Mass.
Receiving communion together is a regular part of our worship life. All baptized people who desire a closer relationship with Jesus are invited to communion. 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 afterward. Baptized children are welcome to receive when they are old enough to desire it.
You may also come to the altar rail to receive a blessing rather than the Eucharist. Simply cross your arms over your chest as you kneel or stand.
Episcopalians are realistic about human nature. We know we are imperfect and that 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 God. We may choose to do this privately, for 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 helps to make our repentance—and God’s forgiveness—tangible.
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. All of Calvary’s priests are available to hear your confession, done at the altar rail in the empty church. Call the church for an appointment.
We corporately make confession almost every Sunday as we celebrate the Eucharist together (BCP p. 360). This is a poignant reminder that we gather as forgiven sinners, empowered to serve the world through God’s gracious love.
Confirmation is the sacramental rite in which the candidates “express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (BCP, p. 860). Those who were baptized at an early age and those baptized as adults without laying on of hands by a bishop are expected to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412). Adults baptized with the laying on of hands by a bishop are considered to be confirmed.
Contact Ebet Peeples for information on upcoming confirmation classes and dates.
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, they 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
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.” Healing prayer is offered frequently in hospitals, homes, and offices, or at our weekly noon Healing Eucharist, offered on Wednesdays.
While death comes to us all, the death of a loved one can be an emotional and difficult time. The clergy at Calvary Church considers 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 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 Book of Common Prayer (BCP, p. 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.
The Book of Common Prayer offers two orders of service for burial. The Rite I service (BCP p. 469-489) uses a more traditional, formal language. The Rite II service (BCP p. 491-505) uses modern language and permits personalization of the service that the Rite I liturgy does not allow. We encourage the use of the Rite II service, particularly if the service will be attended by persons unfamiliar with the Episcopal tradition.
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.
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 p. 468-489 for Rite I and p. 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.