Sacraments are the outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means for receiving God’s grace. The two sacraments of the Gospel are Baptism and Eucharist. The Episcopal Church recognizes five other sacramental rites: Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction (the anointing of the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands).
Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which we become full members of the church. Any baptized person, from the tiniest baby to the oldest adult, is a full member of the church and is welcome to receive communion and to participate in the life of the church. You do not have to be re-baptized to join the Episcopal Church.
At Ascension, Baptisms are performed in the services taking place in the main church on four occasions each year. At our chapel services we are open to scheduling them at other times for compelling pastoral reasons. We baptize people who are willing to commit to the promises of the Baptismal Covenant (Prayer Book pages 304 and 305) and who want to participate regularly in the life of this parish. Prior to the baptism, parents or candidates must attend an orientation.
In the Episcopal Church, confirmation is the way baptized people make a mature, public affirmation of faith, claiming the promises that were made on their behalf in baptism. Life in the Church from this time forward – indeed, all of one’s life – is preparation for confirmation. At Ascension, Both youth and adults prepare for confirmation (and reception into the Episcopal Church) during a special time of instruction and discernment. Confirmation is often held at the Washington National Cathedral in a service that includes many parishes in the Diocese of Washington, as this emphasizes the commitment to the larger body of the church.
One of the greatest and most joyous decisions in life is the decision to marry. The clergy and staff at Ascension are delighted to help couples unite in marriage. Our policies and premarital preparation processes are designed to help that union be a lifelong and loving one.
- All persons considering marriage at Ascension must begin working with the clergy and office staff at least four to six months prior to the wedding date.
- The Episcopal Church requires that at least one of the persons being married be a baptized Christian.
- At Ascension, we also require that the couple regularly attend services here, and if they are not already members, to explore the possibility of becoming members at Ascension.
- The couple must attend an “imago” workshop as part of the inner work of preparing for marriage.
- If either person has been divorced, the clergy person officiating at the marriage must apply to the Bishop of Washington for permission to perform the wedding. This process takes at least three months.
- If this would be a third marriage for either party, special counseling (paid for separately by the couple) will be required and special permission must be obtained from the bishop.
- Marriage for same gender couples is legal in the District of Columbia, and the clergy of Ascension are licensed to officiate there. The same guidelines for preparation apply.
For Christians, at death, “life is changed not ended,” and the people of the Church stand together to support one another at a time of loss. While not officially a sacrament of the church, the burial liturgy hallows our grief and proclaims the hope of a life that is sustained eternally by God’s indestructible love. The clergy of Ascension are on call around the clock to offer solace and support at the time of death.
Ordination, Reconciliation, and Unction are all personal sacraments that require guidance and/or counseling. For information about these sacraments of the church, please contact Rev. Javier.