Life Celebrations: Baptism, Confirmations, Weddings and Funerals

The Episcopal Church welcomes you, no matter where you come from or what your faith background may be. The sacraments of the church are available to those who seek a deeper relationship with God and choose to do so within the Christian community gathered in the Episcopal Church.

IMG-3737Our churches each have their own traditions and processes, so the best place to begin to plan your life celebration is in a local congregation. After you find a congregation where you feel comfortable, make an appointment to talk with the priest. Here are some general guidelines that apply across all churches.

Looking for records of a life celebration? Find them here.

Baptism

Baptism is available to both adults and infants. Most clergy will invite parents to a baptism preparation session including a short practice so you and your child will know what to expect. Adult baptismal candidates will be invited to attend several sessions (individually or in a group) to discuss the meaning and implications of this sacrament.

Confirmation and Reaffirmation

Confirmation is offered to youth (preferably about 16 years of age) and adults who have been baptized in this or another denomination and wish to affirm their baptism and make a commitment to practice their faith within the Episcopal Church. Those who have been confirmed may wish to re-affirm their faith when the bishop visits the congregation. Confirmation classes are generally offered prior to the bishop’s visit.

Marriage and Blessings

The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is an expression of Christian community in which a couple makes their vows before God and the Church, and the priest blesses the marriage on behalf of the Church. Marriage is available to those who are active participants in the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church. One member of the couple must be a baptized Christian and the couple must make a commitment that the marriage is intended to be life-long. It is important that you meet with the priest before making any decisions about when or where your wedding will be held. The Blessing of a Civil Union is available to those who have been legally married before but want a religious ceremony at a later date. Most congregations in the diocese offer blessings to same-sex couples. Again, confer with the priest in your congregation.

Funerals

Funerals are conducted in the church or, at times, in a funeral home. Most clergy are willing to preside at the funeral of someone who has not been a member of their church, provided that the family is willing to follow the practices of the Episcopal Church. These include a funeral being a celebration of the person’s life, closing the casket before the service, and following the liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer which may or may not include a Eucharist. Cremation is acceptable and a brief graveside is normally included. Contact the priest at your local church as soon as the person has died or, if you anticipate a death, before the person has died. Episcopal clergy can also offer “last rites” as a comforting liturgy at the time of death.