Theology and Sacraments



Grace Church and The Episcopal Church hold no distinctive doctrines, but rather seek to uphold the Catholic (universal) faith expressed in The Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed, though lived out in the complexities of the Twenty-First Century.  As Catholics, we uphold the traditional seven sacraments.  Quotations below are from the Catechism of The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 858-61.

Holy 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."  This sacrament is open to all who seek to follow Christ, including adults and their children.  Baptisms are done on the four traditional days of the church calendar (actual dates each year vary): The Great Vigil of Easter, The Day of Pentecost, The Sunday after All Saints, The Baptism of Our Lord.  Mandatory baptismal preparation happens on the Saturday just before baptism at 1:00 p.m.  Email Fr. Bates for more information or to complete the necessary paperwork typically due one month prior to the scheduled baptism.  

The Holy Eucharist (Mass or Holy Communion), the second sacrament commanded by Christ, is "the Church's sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving ... by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself."  Anglo-Catholics affirm the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion.  The benefits include "the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life."  The ancient tradition of the church invites those who are baptized to participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Confirmation is "the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and received strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop."  Baptism, confirmation preparation classes (held during the Season of Lent), and in this diocese being in Eighth Grace or higher, are prerequisites for Confirmation.  Those who have been Confirmed in another tradition (by a bishop in apostolic succession) may be received into The Episcopal Church.  Email Fr. Bates for more information, to enroll in the preparatory classes, and to complete the necessary paperwork. 

Confession (or Penance or Reconciliation of a Penitent) is "the rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution."  While the intention of repentance (change) and reconciliation with one's neighbor are expected, the seal of formal confession is absolute.  Confessions are heard at Grace at the confessional booth in the church on Fridays between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. or by appointment.  Please call or email Fr. Bates for an appointment.  

Unction is "the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.  It may be administered to anyone in need of healing or those who are near death.  Anointing is done at Grace at the 12:10 p.m.  Mass on Tuesdays or by appointment. Please call or email Fr. Bates immediately at the time of serious illness or hospitalization for the sacrament of anointing.  

Holy Matrimony is "Christian marriage, in which [two people] enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows."  Several months' notice is usually required, as well as several sessions of premarital counseling.  Most fees for pledging members and their children are usually waived, while others will incur several wedding fees.  All parties must adhere to these wedding policies.  Please call or email Fr. Bates to discuss preparation and fees involved with a wedding at Grace Church.

Ordination is "the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops."  Anyone interested in being ordained deacon or priest, should first speak to Fr. Bates, while the Commission on Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark oversees the continuing process.

Burial of the Dead, while not a sacrament, is the important ritual of celebrating the life of and bidding farewell to the deceased, while also allowing the bereaved to grieve and take hope in God.  "The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to, and arrangements for the funeral should be made in consultation with, the Minister of the Congregation....  The coffin is to be closed before the service, and it remains close thereafter."  Funerals (with the body or cremated remains) are usually done in the Church Building or at the graveside.  Other policies and fees related to funerals may be found here.