Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | June 18, 2007

More Common Newbie Questions

More Newbie Questions
I was brought up in another church. How do I join yours?The Episcopal Church is very accepting of newcomers and there are three ways that newcomers become members of our Church, depending upon their baptism and previous denomination. New members are baptized, confirmed, or received.

Baptism is for a person who has never been baptized before, and conditional baptism is for those where there is doubt of valid baptism. In conditional baptism, the priest says over the candidate, “If you are not already baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. After the person is baptized, they may receive communion for the first time. A person baptized by a bishop may receive confirmation at the same time.

Confirmation is for those already baptized who are penitent for all their sins and have received instruction in the Christian faith and beliefs of the Episcopal Church. This is also an adult commitment to Christ for those baptized as infants or small children. At confirmation, a bishops lays hands on and blesses the confirmand. This is both an affirmation of faith and the reception of the Holy Spirit.

Reception is for those already baptized who have been confirmed in a Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or other Church with a valid apostolic succession (bishops whose authority goes back to the Apostles in an unbroken line). Since their previous confirmation is considered valid, re-confirmation is not necessary. Reception welcomes them into this branch of the Church.

How can a layperson assist at the service?

The Episcopal Church offers many ways for people to assist. Although the requirements may vary by parish, here are some ways that laypeople can assist .

Greeters Greeters are members of the vestry or others who greet the people as they enter or leave the church on Sundays. Greeters may often welcome newcomers and help them get aquainted with the other members and clergy.

Ushers Ushers hand out service bulletins, help people find seats when the church is full, and collect the offering.

Choir members Many churches have several choirs, and each has at least one. Choirs can range from volunteer choirs with little experience to professional choirs who also perform concerts to bell ringers to informal praise bands and singers. Many churches also offer childrens’ and youth choirs.

Acolytes Acolytes can be children, teens, or adults and do various assisting tasks such as carrying crosses and candles in processions, holding the Bible for the priest/deacon during the Gospel reading, using incense, and assisting at the altar while communion is prepared. Sometimes an adult acolyte will acts as a verger, who is basically a master of ceremonies and helps to keep things in order during the service.

Lay Readers Lay readers read the Old and New Testament readings, and may also lead the intercessory prayers. Sometimes the readings are read by a Lay Eucharistic Minister who also assists at communion.

Intercessor An intercessor reads the Prayers of the People.

Oblationers Oblationers carry the bread and wine to the altar before communion.

Lay Eucharistic MinistersLEM’s assist at communion by giving communicants the wine, sometimes reading a Bible reading or intercessory prayers, and often leading weekday prayer services. Lay Eucharistic Visitors, who may or may not already be EM’s, bring communion to the sick and shut-ins.

In addition there are many other volunteer and fellowship opportunities at an Episcopal Church. Usually there is something for everyone 🙂

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