Have you been attending St. John’s for years but still feel like you aren’t sure what’s going on? Maybe you’ve got things figured out but haven’t made it “official.” Or, perhaps you’re new to St. John’s and excited to learn more about this place. Whatever your reason, this class is for you! This class, taught primarily by The Rev. Kate Wesch, is a 7-part series on Sunday mornings from 9:00-10:00 a.m. in the Parish Hall. It begins on February 27 and concludes with Bishop Ian Douglas’ visitation on April 24, 2022.

The classes cover a wide range of topics, including the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the sacraments, what it means to be a member, Episcopal polity, and more! Attending this class does not obligate you to be baptized, confirmed, or received, but it will prepare you if that is what you seek.

Who should attend?

  • All persons who have recently transferred to St. John’s from another denomination.
  • All persons who are seeking more information about the Episcopal Church.
  • All persons who are seeking a renewal course in the basics of the Episcopal faith and practice.
  • All persons who are exploring the Episcopal Church with a potential or desire for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation.

Baptism – Holy Baptism in the Episcopal Church is a sacramental rite. It is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. The Episcopal Church believes in one Lord, one faith, one baptism. That is to say that we recognize all baptisms from all traditions. Baptisms take place at St. John’s on four major feast days throughout the year: Baptism of our Lord Sunday, the Great Vigil of Easter, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day.

Confirmation – Confirmation in the Episcopal Church is a sacramental rite in which a baptized person makes a mature and public affirmation of the promises that are usually made at baptism by parents and godparents. After making these affirmations, a bishop lays hands on the candidate and prays a prayer of Confirmation. (See the Book of Common Prayer for the promises made at Holy Baptism, pp. 299-308, and for the proceedings at the service of Confirmation, pp. 413-419.)

Reception – In some dioceses, reception is reserved for those a bishop has already confirmed in another denomination (Roman Catholics or Orthodox). A more widely accepted understanding of reception is that it is a way of honoring anyone who has made a mature confession of faith in any other denomination by saying, in effect, we recognize and honor your spiritual journey in another fellowship, and we welcome you into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church, as you continue that journey. The bishop lays hands on the person being received and says, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 418). So, if you have not been confirmed or received by a bishop, you may choose either Confirmation or reception, although tradition might nudge you toward Confirmation.

Reaffirmation – Reaffirmation is for people who have already been confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Some people presented to the bishop during the service of Confirmation are there to “reaffirm” their Christian vows. These might be people who have been away from the church for a period of time and want to make a new beginning. Others might be people who sense that they are at a new stage in their spiritual life and want to affirm this in ritual. Periodically, a spouse, fiancé́, or parent who is already a confirmed Episcopalian will go through reaffirmation as a way of honoring his or her family member’s decision to become a confirmed Episcopalian, saying in effect, “We are in this together.” We all go through many changes in our life’s journey, and reaffirmation provides a rite for those who want to take stock of their religious and spiritual life anew.

For those who wish to go deeper or think they may choose to be confirmed, received, or reaffirmed at the Bishop’s visitation on April 24, please buy a copy of the book: Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices by Scott Gunn & Melody Wilson Shobe.

Reading this book alongside the class will greatly augment your learning. We have copies for purchase in the Parish Office for $16. It is also readily available on Amazon and on Kindle.

To call the office, please call (860-767-8095) or email (chelsea@stjohnsesssex.org).