Baptism: Entrance into the Church
In the Episcopal Church, we believe that Baptism is the “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the Church.” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 298) In other words, Baptism is the sacrament that makes us members of the Christian Church.
A “sacrament” is defined as an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.” (Catechism, BCP p. 857) In baptism, this inward and spiritual grace is God’s adoption of us as children, making us members of Christ’s Body, the Church. This is God’s grace and does not depend on any action on our part – such as a confession of faith or even the conduct of life – with the result that baptism can never be undone, and never needs to be repeated.
The “outward and visible signs” of baptism are water and oil. The person being baptized can be totally immersed in water, dunked in water, or have water poured or sprinkled over the head (the most common method, especially with young children). For us, the method doesn’t matter, as long as water is used. One cannot be legitimately baptized without it.
When can baptisms occur?
Baptism usually takes place on Sunday morning, in the context of Holy Eucharist, the primary worship service of the Church. This means that every member of the local church can participate as they renew their own Baptismal Covenant along with the person being baptized. So, except for extraordinary circumstances, there are no “private” baptisms at Good Shepherd.
Although a Baptism may be performed at any time of the year, there are some feast days on which it is especially appropriate. The most traditional time for baptism, going back to the first centuries of Christianity, is during the Easter season, particularly at the Easter Vigil service. Other appropriate days throughout the year are: the day of Pentecost, which comes fifty days after Easter Day and so in late May or early June; All Saints’ Sunday, the first Sunday in November; and the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, the first Sunday after January 6th.
What about Godparents?
Each candidate for baptism is presented and sponsored by one or more baptized persons. In the case of infants or younger children, these sponsors, frequently called “godparents”, should be individuals who will be present throughout the child’s growing years and attentive, along with the parents, to the child’s growth “in the knowledge and love of the Lord.” Since this education is best done through regular worship and since they are making the Baptismal Vows on behalf of the child, it is important that parents, and godparents too if possible, be regular communicants of a local parish. The number and gender of godparents is not specified.
For more information…
Our priest, Rev. Jenny Reece, will be happy to provide baptismal instruction for parents, godparents, or sponsors before the date of baptism. If you would like to have your child baptized, contact the church office at 207.864.3381, well before your preferred time of baptism in order to make arrangements.
Weddings and Funerals: Celebrating Life
It is a joy for us at the Church of the Good Shepherd to help you celebrate the important turning points of your life, whether in the joyous uniting of two people in marriage, or in the more solemn joy of giving thanks for the life of a loved one and committing their remains to the Lord to enter into eternal rest with God.
Congratulations on your engagement! We are delighted that you are considering holding your special ceremony here in the beautiful Sanctuary or grounds of Good Shepherd Church on the shores of Rangeley Lake.
Marriages at Good Shepherd are Christian celebrations, so it is necessary that at least one of the couple is a baptized Christian. You do not have to be an Episcopalian. The wedding ceremonies used in the Episcopal Church range from traditional to modern, and may or may not include a celebration of the Eucharist. This and the other details of the ceremony, such as readings, music, the wording of the vows, and so on, will be determined by the couple in close consultation with our priest, the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Reece.
If the couple desires another priest or minister to marry them in our church, Rev. Jenny will be happy to invite him or her, but will retain a role as the hosting priest.
Music used in the wedding should be of a kind suitable for a church, but is not limited to the hymns in our hymn books. The couple may use their own musician or one of the musicians associated with the Church.
The church Undercroft and grounds will be available to be booked for a Reception, if so desired.
If you are interested in being married at the Church of the Good Shepherd, please fill out the Marriage Request form and speak to Rev. Jenny (207.864.3381 or 207.952.2363) about setting up appointments for Wedding Planning and Marriage Preparation.
Our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loved one. We consider it an honor to provide a funeral or memorial service to celebrate his or her life, to commend him or her to God’s eternal care, and to comfort the mourners.
The Book of Common Prayer provides the Episcopal service of Christian Burial. In a Burial or Funeral, the loved one’s remains (whether bodily or after cremation) are present. We do not usually practice an open casket funeral as the emphasis is on the loved person’s transition to a new and eternal life, not on the corpse. A Memorial Service is held if the body is not present. In either case, the family and loved ones may ask for particular readings, songs, prayers, that will best reflect the life to be celebrated. Our priest, Rev. Jenny, will lead you through these choices so that the service will be personal and memorable.
Payments for funeral services will be made through your funeral director.
Through the generosity and hard work of our Episcopal Church Women and other church members, a funeral reception may be held in our Undercroft. Whatever help the family and friends can give in arranging this will be most welcome.
Rev. Jenny is also very interested in working with congregation members and others from the local community who might want to make arrangements for their own final celebrations while they are still able to make their own wishes known. Please give her a call (207.864.3381, or 207.952.2363) if you would like to participate in an Advanced Funeral Planning session.