The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) describes sacraments as "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace." The two great sacraments instituted by Christ in the Gospel are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
In Holy Baptism we are made "members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God" (Book of Common Prayer). This sacrament is normally celebrated within a Sunday Eucharist so that the Christian community can acknowledge its responsibility for the nurturing of those being baptized. Baptism as part of the communal worship also recognizes the significance of the fact that one is formally becoming a member of the Body of Christ, as represented by the Church in the world.
The Holy Eucharist is the focus of our Sunday worship. According to the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer, it is "the Sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of His life, death and resurrection until His coming again... The benefits we receive in the Lord's Supper ... are forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and with one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in heavenly life." Therefore, when we come to the Lord's Table, "it is required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people." Those who do not wish to receive may come forward to the altar rail to receive a blessing. Gluten-free Communion wafers are also available for those with wheat allergies; please speak to the clergy to arrange to receive this type of wafer. Upon the request of a parent or guardian, the clergy will provide instruction to prepare children to receive Communion. Parents decide the age at which a child receives Communion.
Sacrament of Healing
We offer the Sacrament of Healing every Sunday at the 9:30 service and the second Sunday of the month at the 8:00 service (during the summer we offer this sacrament every second Sunday of the month at the 9:00 service). This sacrament begins with a priest making the sign of the cross with Holy Oil on your forehead. You then have the opportunity to privately tell a small team of healing ministers the nature of your need for healing, body, mind, and/or spirit. Healing may also be sought for relationships that are in distress or for strength and guidance at some specific crossroad of life. The healing ministers will pray softly (to ensure your privacy) for God's blessing. You may also request this sacrament in proxy for another person. In this sacrament we do not teach that one's medical or other problems will be removed, like magic. Rather, we affirm that God's love itself is healing, and that we can be healed (that is, a whole person, at peace) in the embrace of God. All requests for healing prayer will be held in confidence; your requests will be made known only to the healing team members who will pray for you on a particular day.
Confirmation is the rite in which a Christian makes a statement of faith and responsibility in the church and is affirmed by the Bishop with the laying on of hands. Reception is a rite for those who have made adult professions of faith in other Christian traditions and are received by the Bishop into the Episcopal Church. Reaffirmation of baptismal vows is offered to persons who have already been confirmed, received, or baptized as adults in the Episcopal Church, but who would like to make a public statement of recommitment and receive the Bishop's blessing.
Confirm not Conform
St. James's uses a Confirmation program called "Confirm not Conform" which takes a contemporary approach to helping young people build their own spiritual loves. CnC is focused on helping young people ask tough questions and search out the answers. Through innovative classroom work, field trips, mentor relationships and the challenge to do a whole lot more than just learn a few facts, CnC lets kids take responsibility for understanding their faith and its power. When they do —when they see the church and faith as something that truly belongs to them, rather than something they are forced to learn—it builds a bond that lasts.
The marriage and blessing of two people is a holy union; a lifelong, spiritual commitment. It begins with your desire to form a lasting, life-long partnership with another in God's love, and continues throughout your lives as a process of intentional living and growing together. In this holy union, each of you as an individual, and together as a couple, gradually transform and mature in God's presence and image. The celebration and blessing of a marriage is usually held in the church, normally within the context of Holy Eucharist. At least one member of the couple being married must be a baptized Christian.
Couples contemplating Marriage or the Blessing of a Civil Union at St. James's should consult with the clergy prior to setting a date. Allow time for at least four to six sessions of counseling and instruction. A minimum of 60 days' notice must be given in all cases. For those who have been divorced or have previously dissolved a civil union, a longer time is necessary, as permission of a bishop is required.
A valid license for marriage or a civil union is available from the town clerk or city clerk in the town or city in which either member of the couple resides, and must be obtained before a wedding or civil union can take place in the State of Connecticut.
Visit our Weddings and Funerals page for more information.
At the Time of Death
When a member of the parish dies or is near death, the parish office should be notified immediately. The clergy are ready to offer support and comfort at any hour. The church is the appropriate place for the funeral of a Christian, a service typically celebrated within the context of the Holy Eucharist.
Parishioners are encouraged to leave instructions about their wishes for their funerals and other end-of-life decisions, including the selection of a plot in the church's Memorial Garden, with the parish office. Persons interested in discussing these matters are encouraged to contact one of the clergy.
The Parish House is usually available as a gathering place before and after the service.