Baptism in the Episcopal Church is offered to all who seek to become members of the Body of Christ and rest in the assurance that they have been marked as Christ’s own forever. Parents wishing to have a child baptized, or adults wishing to be baptized may make an appointment for further discussion. There are four Sundays in the Church calendar for Baptism. Additional times may be scheduled in consultation with the Priest.
An Overview of Baptism
In baptism we are made sharers in the new life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the foundation for all future church participation and ministry. Each candidate for baptism in the Episcopal Church is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons. Sponsors (godparents) speak on behalf of candidates for baptism who are infants or younger children and cannot speak for themselves at the Presentation and Examination of the Candidates. During the baptism the members of the congregation promise to do all they can to support the candidates for baptism in their life in Christ. They join with the candidates by renewing the baptismal covenant. Candidates are baptized "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and then marked on the forehead with the sign of the cross. Chrism may be used for this marking. The newly baptized is "sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own for ever." When all baptisms have been completed, the celebrant and congregation welcome the newly administered within the eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or another feast.
The Catechism notes that "Infants are baptized so that they can share citizenship in the Covenant, membership in Christ, and redemption by God." The baptismal promises are made for infants by their parents or sponsors, "who guarantee that the infants will be brought up within the Church, to know Christ and be able to follow him" (BCP, pp. 858-859). Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, the Day of Pentecost, All Saint's Day or the Sunday following, and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). (The Episcopal Church)
When two people desire to form a lasting, lifelong partnership with each other in God’s love, they turn to marriage. Marriage is a union, an unfolding process of intentional living and growing together. In a marriage, each person as an individual and both as a couple gradually transform and mature in God’s presence and image.
Christian marriage is a sacrament— an outward and visible sign of God’s grace bringing two persons together and nurturing their love.
Marriage is a vocation, a calling to a particular vowed manner of life over the course of a lifetime. Not all people are called to marriage, but for those who are, it is to be entered into with mutual care, respect, and delight.
All this is why a wedding in The Episcopal Church is a sacred ritual that acknowledges and celebrates, before God and the community, the desire of the couple to enter a lifelong covenant. It symbolizes the ending of former and other potential ways of life, establishing a particular pathway into the future—in which two people promise to travel together. By uniting within the context of a faith community, the couple recognize that God is active in the love they feel for one another, and they place their relationship in God’s care. The couple make their vows before God and the gathered community of family, friends and the Church. They in turn receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill those vows.
A wedding in The Episcopal Church is shaped by The Book of Common Prayer, Canon law, thoughtful and beautiful liturgical worship, and the laws of the state in which the marriage occurs. The Episcopal clergy person officiating at a wedding is responsible to provide pre-marital counseling and assists the couple in shaping a marriage service that reflects the tradition of the Episcopal church and the uniqueness of the persons who are committing to marriage. (The Diocese of Ft. Worth)
Funerals are an important aspect of the pastoral care of all members of the St. Alfred’s parish family. When someone has died, it is the duty of the church to welcome all who seek comfort and an appropriate celebration of a loved one’s life and new life in Christ.
Pre-planning your funeral is a great gift to your loved ones. To have prepared your wishes, in consultation with the Priest, ensures that your loved ones know that they are providing exactly the type of service you desire. It is never too early to make these arrangements. Click here to download Funeral Planning Guide and make an appointment with the Priest.
For those who have suffered a loss and are in immediate need of planning a funeral service we have a comprehensive check list for funeral planning. Please call the Church Office, 727-461-1717, for assistance and to let the clergy know of your loss. When the office is closed, a recorded message will provide emergency contact information. In some cases, arrangements are made through a funeral director, who will in turn consult the clergy regarding family preferences and availability of church and clergy.
In the Episcopal Church, a funeral may be held with the body present in a coffin or with the ashes present; or a memorial service may be held in the church after the remains, whether in a coffin, or ashes, have been committed to a final resting place. The clergy will be happy to discuss the theological and pastoral considerations in all these approaches, as well as in choosing the date for the service. The clergy will also be happy to provide or make referrals for grief counseling.
Following the guidelines of our Book of Common Prayer, baptized Christians are buried from the church, and we encourage a service to be held at a time when the congregation has the opportunity to be present. As with other sacramental rites in the church, funerals properly take place in the context of Christian community. You do not have to be a member of Good Samaritan in order for a funeral service to be held at the church.
The clergy will meet with the family to plan the service, including any music, in accordance with the liturgy provided in the Book of Common Prayer. Click here for our Funeral Planning Guide. There is no set fee for a funeral service at the church; families are asked to make a contribution to Good Samaritan’s Discretionary Fund, which assists people in need. Musicians will have fees for their services. Families may provide flowers arrangements for the altar. The clergy can assist in providing a referral for a florist.
Good Samaritan can provide space for a reception following a funeral; we ask that the family make arrangements for the food to be provided at the reception and pay a small fee for any extra needed clean up. Clergy will accompany the family to the cemetery to do a graveside committal service either before or after a service held in the church.
We commend to you the following description of the burial service of the Church from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 507):
“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’ [Romans 8:38-39].
May God bless you in this time of mourning, lighten the burden of grief, and through the gift of grace bring you in due course to wholeness and peace.
PLEASE NOTE: The clergy are available to all parishioners to discuss funeral arrangements at any time and are happy to make preliminary plans for a service in accordance with your wishes at a time when you are healthy and able to make choices about the service.
Good Samaritan is extremely blessed to have a Memorial Garden for the interment of the cremated remains of our congregation and their families.