St. Matthews Episcopal Church Restoring people to unity with God and each other in Christ...

The Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Sacraments are ritual acts of the Church that express connection between God and God’s people. The Episcopal Church recognizes seven sacraments. Two, the Holy Eucharist (sometimes called Holy Communion or Mass) and Baptism were ordered by Jesus. The remaining sacramental rites are significant events that positively affect the lives of the recipients.

Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the Church. Holy Baptism for adults, children, or infants may be scheduled on Sunday morning service at any time during the year, except during Lent. To schedule a baptism, please contact the church office or a member of the vestry.

The principal act of worship on the Lord’s Day is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The liturgy remembers Jesus’ meal with his disciples, when he shared the bread and wine and declared, “This is my body, this is my blood.” The Episcopal Church believes in the real presence of Christ in and through the Holy Eucharist. All baptized Christians are welcome to share in this meal at God’s table. Through Eucharist, God offers the grace of healing and the blessing of the Holy Spirit. We take the Body and Blood of Christ into our own bodies to become “living members” of Christ’s Body in the world.

Confirmation is an adult public affirmation of faith during which a bishop lays hands on the confirmand, praying for strengthening by the power of the Holy Spirit. Adults who have been confirmed in another church can be received into the Episcopal Church, and adults who have been confirmed can re-affirm baptismal vows during a confirmation service.

The Episcopal Church considers people to be adults at age 16. Young people are generally confirmed about the 8th grade. Anyone seeking confirmation should contact any member of the vestry or a priest. An Inquirers' Class will then be offered prior to the Bishop's Visitation each year. This is the opportunity to learn more about the history, present and future of The Episcopal Church. The class will include the marks of mission, Baptism, belonging, Bible study, An Outline of the Faith (commonly called the catechism), the seasons of the church year, the Bible and Episcopalians, the Book of Common Prayer, customs and practices of the church, being a disciple, prayer, and a plethora of other subjects attendees want to cover.

The Reconciliation of a Penitent – or opportunity to make a confession – is available to anyone at any time. Any Christian can hear a confession, but only a bishop or priest can pronounce absolution. Confessions may be formal, with the penitent kneeling before a confessor, or informal, with the penitent and clergy meeting for a spiritual conference. For more information, contact a clergy member listed in the staff directory. In the Episcopal Church, Reconciliation of a Penitent is sometimes referred to as a "anyone can - no-one must" sacrament. It is, to those who practice a schedule of regular confession the most blessed of all except the Eucharist.

The Book of Common Prayer defines Holy Matrimony as a sacramental rite in which two people enter into a lifelong union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. The Episcopal Church has recently recognized the validity of marriage of two people of the same sex; and same sex marriage has been authorized by the Diocese of North Carolina, subject to beliefs of individual priests.

In the Episcopal Church, bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained. Bishops lead and supervise the church; priests help govern the church, carry out missionary and pastoral work, preach, and administer sacraments; deacons assist bishops and priests in their work. No one can exercise the duties of these offices unless ordained.

Discerning a call to Ordination occurs in community with others and usually includes clergy and laity from a local congregation, chaplains at educational institutions, members of the bishop’s staff, local and regional leaders, and trusted friends.

As a blessing for the sick or dying, a priest may perform unction. The priest prays for the person to be forgiven from sin, released from suffering, and restored to wholeness and strength. For information, contact a clergy member listed in the staff directory.