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Sacraments

The Presbyterian Church has two Sacraments, Baptism and The Lord's Supper.

Questions concerning baptism may be discussed with our minister, Dr. Matthew Covington. He can be contacted at the church by phone 270.843.4707 or by email.

The Lord's Supper, also referred to as Holy Communion, is regularly observed every first Sunday of the month at our church.

A detailed description (per the Book of Order) of both Sacraments is included below.

When the church confesses its faith during the celebration of

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper the creeds of the universal Church

should be used. (W-3.3603) The Word confessed is always judged

by the living Word, Jesus Christ, as attested in Scripture.

The people’s participation in the proclamation of the Word is

above all to hear:

a. to discern Jesus Christ,

b. to receive his offered grace,

c. to respond to his call with obedience.

Such participation depends upon the illumination of the Holy

Spirit, which is to be sought earnestly in prayer. The words “hearing”

and “heard” are not intended exclusively to mean acts of

sensory perception.

Baptism

Baptism is the sign and seal of incorporation into Christ. Jesus

through his own baptism identified himself with sinners in order to

fulfill all righteousness. Jesus in his own baptism was attested Son

by the Father and was anointed with the Holy Spirit to undertake

the way of the servant manifested in his sufferings, death, and

resurrection. Jesus the risen Lord assured his followers of his continuing

presence and power and commissioned them “Go therefore

and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the

Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to

obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am

with you always to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19, NRSV). The

disciples were empowered by the outpouring of the Spirit to

undertake a life of service and to be an inclusive worshiping community,

sharing life in which love, justice, and mercy abounded.

(W-1.3033)

In Baptism, we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection. In

Baptism, we die to what separates us from God and are raised to

newness of life in Christ. Baptism points us back to the grace of

God expressed in Jesus Christ, who died for us and who was raised

for us. Baptism points us forward to that same Christ who will fulfill

God’s purpose in God’s promised future.

In Baptism, the Holy Spirit binds the Church in covenant to its

Creator and Lord. The water of Baptism symbolizes the waters of

Creation, of the Flood, and of the Exodus from Egypt. Thus, the

water of Baptism links us to the goodness of God’s creation and to

the grace of God’s covenants with Noah and Israel. Prophets of

Israel, amidst the failure of their own generation to honor God’s

covenant, called for justice to roll down like waters and righteousness

like an everflowing stream. (Amos 5:24) They envisioned a

fresh expression of God’s grace and of creation’s goodness—a new

covenant accompanied by the sprinkling of cleansing water. In his

ministry, Jesus offered the gift of living water. So, Baptism is the

sign and seal of God’s grace and covenant in Christ.

As circumcision was the sign and symbol of inclusion in God’s

grace and covenant with Israel, so Baptism is the sign and symbol

of inclusion in God’s grace and covenant with the Church. As an

identifying mark, Baptism signifies

a. the faithfulness of God,

b. the washing away of sin,

c. rebirth,

d. putting on the fresh garment of Christ,

e. being sealed by God’s Spirit,

f. adoption into the covenant family of the Church,

g. resurrection and illumination in Christ.

The body of Christ is one, and Baptism is the bond of unity in

Christ. As they are united with Christ through faith, Baptism unites

the people of God with each other and with the church of every

time and place. Barriers of race, gender, status, and age are to be

transcended. Barriers of nationality, history, and practice are to be

overcome.

Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God’s

redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God’s gift of

grace and also God’s summons to respond to that grace. Baptism

calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism

gives the church its identity and commissions the church for

ministry to the world.

God’s faithfulness signified in Baptism is constant and sure,

even when human faithfulness to God is not. Baptism is received

only once. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to the moment when

it is administered, for Baptism signifies the beginning of life in

Christ, not its completion. God’s grace works steadily, calling to repentance

and newness of life. God’s faithfulness needs no renewal.

Human faithfulness to God needs repeated renewal. Baptism calls

for decision at every subsequent stage of life’s way, both for those

whose Baptism attends their profession of faith and for those who

are nurtured from childhood within the family of faith.

a. Both believers and their children are included in God’s

covenant love. Children of believers are to be baptized without

undue delay, but without undue haste. Baptism, whether administered

to those who profess their faith or to those presented for

Baptism as children, is one and the same Sacrament.

b. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s

love claims people before they are able to respond in faith.

c. The Baptism of those who enter the covenant upon their

own profession of faith witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of

grace calls for fulfillment in a response of faithfulness.

Baptism is received only once. There are many times in

worship, however, when believers acknowledge the grace of God

continually at work. As they participate in the celebration of

another’s Baptism, as they experience the sustaining nurture of the

Lord’s Supper, and as they reaffirm the commitments made at

Baptism, they confess their ongoing need of God’s grace and

pledge anew their obedience to God’s covenant in Christ.

As there is one body, there is one Baptism. (Eph. 4:4–6) The

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes all Baptisms with water

in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

administered by other Christian churches.

a. For reasons of order, Baptism shall be authorized by the

session, administered by a minister of the Word and Sacrament, or

commissioned lay pastor when invited by the session and authorized

by the presbytery, and accompanied by the reading and

proclaiming of the Word. (G-11.0103p; W-3.3602–.3608) Baptism

is celebrated in a service of public worship. Extraordinary circumstances

may call for the administration of Baptism apart from the

worship of the whole congregation. In such cases care should be

taken that

(1) the congregation be represented by one or more

members of the session;

(2) a proper understanding of the meaning of the Sacrament

be offered by the minister;

(3) the session be consulted when possible;

(4) the Baptism be reported by the officiating minister

and recorded by the session.

b. A governing body may also authorize the celebration of

the Sacrament of Baptism by chaplains or other ministers serving in

hospitals, prisons, schools, or other institutions where the governing

body has an authorized ministry or an institutional witness, by

chaplains ministering to members of the armed forces and their

families, and by ministers engaged in new church development

under the jurisdiction of the governing body. In all such cases of

Baptism, the minister of the Word and Sacrament shall take

responsibility that the newly baptized person is enrolled as a member

of a particular church. Such enrollment may be arranged in

advance in consultation with the session of the church, or the

governing body may provide that any such newly baptized member

shall be enrolled in absentia as a member of a particular church designated

by the governing body and under its jurisdiction or upon

the roll held by the governing body until a new church is organized.

The session’s responsibilities for Baptism are

a. encouraging parents to present their children for Baptism,

reminding them that children of believers are to be baptized

without undue haste, but without undue delay, and

authorizing the Baptism of those presented; (W-2.3014)

b. admitting to Baptism children of believers, after appropriate

instruction and discussion with the parent(s) or

one(s) rightly exercising parental responsibility, acquainting

them with the significance of what God is doing in this

act, and with the special responsibilities on parents and

congregations for nurturing the baptized person in the

Christian life;

c. admitting to Baptism, after appropriate instruction and

examination, those not yet baptized who come making

public their personal profession of faith;

d. placing all baptized persons on the appropriate roll as

members of the congregation;

e. making certain that those baptized are nurtured in understanding

the meaning of Baptism, of the Lord’s Supper,

and of their interrelation, and that they are surrounded by

Christian encouragement and support. (G-10.0102b, d, e;

G-10.0302; W-2.3011)

The congregation as a whole, on behalf of the Church universal,

assumes responsibility for nurturing the baptized person in

the Christian life. In exercising this ministry, the session may

designate certain members of the congregation as representatives of

the church charged with special responsibility for nurture. For any

person who is being baptized, sponsor(s) may be appointed by the

session in consultation with those desiring Baptism for themselves

or for their children and given the specific role of nurturing the

baptized person. (W-6.2001; W-6.2005)

When a child is being presented for Baptism, ordinarily the

parent(s) or one(s) rightly exercising parental responsibility shall be

an active member of the congregation. Those presenting children

for Baptism shall promise to provide nurture and guidance within

the community of faith until the child is ready to make a personal

profession of faith and assume the responsibility of active church

membership. (W-4.2002; W-4.2003) The session may also consider

a request for the baptism of a child from a Christian parent who is

an active member of another congregation. If the session approves

such a request, it shall consult with the governing body of the other

congregation and shall notify them when the Sacrament has been

administered.

The Lord’s Supper

a. The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking

in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. During his

earthly ministry Jesus shared meals with his followers as a sign of

community and acceptance and as an occasion for his own ministry.

He celebrated Israel’s feasts of covenant commemoration.

b. In his last meal before his death, Jesus took and shared

with his disciples the bread and wine, speaking of them as his body

and blood, signs of the new covenant. He commended breaking

bread and sharing a cup to remember and proclaim his death.

c. On the day of his resurrection, the risen Jesus made himself

known to his followers in the breaking of bread. He continued

to show himself to believers, by blessing and breaking bread, by

preparing, serving, and sharing common meals. (W-1.3033)

The Church in the New Testament devoted itself to the apostles’

teaching, to fellowship, to prayers, and to the common meal.

The apostle Paul delivered to the Church the tradition he had received

from the risen Lord, who commanded that his followers share the bread and cup as a remembrance and a showing forth of

his death until he comes. The New Testament describes the meal as

a participation in Christ and with one another in the expectation of

the Kingdom and as a foretaste of the messianic banquet.

In the Lord’s Supper the Church, gathered for worship,

a. blesses God for all that God has done through creation,

redemption, and sanctification;

b. gives thanks that God is working in the world and in the

Church in spite of human sin;

c. gratefully anticipates the fulfillment of the Kingdom

Christ proclaimed, and offers itself in obedient service to

God’s reign.

At the Lord’s Table, the Church is

a. renewed and empowered by the memory of Christ’s life,

death, resurrection, and promise to return;

b. sustained by Christ’s pledge of undying love and continuing

presence with God’s people;

c. sealed in God’s covenant of grace through partaking of

Christ’s self-offering.

In remembering, believers receive and trust the love of Christ present

to them and to the world; they manifest the reality of the

covenant of grace in reconciling and being reconciled; and they

proclaim the power of Christ’s reign for the renewal of the world in

justice and in peace.

As the people of God bless and thank God the Father and

remember Jesus Christ the Son, they call upon the Holy Spirit

a. to lift them into Christ’s presence;

b. to accept their offering of bread and wine;

c. to make breaking bread and sharing the cup a participation

in the body and blood of Christ;

d. to bind them with Christ and with one another;

e. to unite them in communion with all the faithful in

heaven and on earth;

f. to nourish them with Christ’s body and blood that they

may mature into the fullness of Christ;

g. to keep them faithful as Christ’s body, representing Christ

and doing God’s work in the world.

Around the Table of the Lord, God’s people are in communion

with Christ and with all who belong to Christ. Reconciliation with

Christ compels reconciliation with one another. All the baptized

faithful are to be welcomed to the Table, and none shall be excluded

because of race, sex, age, economic status, social class,

handicapping condition, difference of culture or language, or any

barrier created by human injustice. Coming to the Lord’s Table the

faithful are actively to seek reconciliation in every instance of conflict

or division between them and their neighbors. Each time they

gather at the Table the believing community

a. are united with the Church in every place, and the whole

Church is present;

b. join with all the faithful in heaven and on earth in offering

thanksgiving to the triune God;

c. renew the vows taken at Baptism;

and they commit themselves afresh to love and serve God, one

another, and their neighbors in the world.

In this meal the Church celebrates the joyful feast of the people

of God, and anticipates the great banquet and marriage supper

of the Lamb. Brought by the Holy Spirit into Christ’s presence, the

Church eagerly expects and prays for the day when Christ shall

come in glory and God be all in all. Nourished by this hope, the

Church rises from the Table and is sent by the power of the Holy

Spirit to participate in God’s mission to the world, to proclaim the

gospel, to exercise compassion, to work for justice and peace until

Christ’s Kingdom shall come at last.

In the life of the worshiping congregation, Word and Sacrament

have an integral relationship. Whenever the Lord’s Supper is

observed, it shall be preceded by the reading and the proclamation

of the Word. (W-1.1005)

The Lord’s Supper is to be observed on the Lord’s Day, in the

regular place of worship, and in a manner suitable to the particular

occasion and local congregation. It is appropriate to celebrate the

Lord’s Supper as often as each Lord’s Day. It is to be celebrated

regularly and frequently enough to be recognized as integral to the

Service for the Lord’s Day.

It is also appropriate to observe the Lord’s Supper on other

occasions of special significance in the life of the Christian

community, as long as the celebration of the Sacrament is open to

the whole believing community. The Lord’s Supper may be

observed in connection with the visitation of the sick and those isolated

from public worship as a means of extending the church’s

ministry to them. On all such occasions of the celebration of the

Sacrament, the Word shall be read and proclaimed. Even though

such a celebration may involve only a few members of the congregation,

nevertheless it is not to be understood as a private ceremony

or devotional exercise, but as an act of the whole church, which

shall be represented not only by the minister or the one authorized

by presbytery to administer the Sacrament, but also by one or more

members of the congregation authorized by the session to represent

the church. (W-2.4012; W-3.3609–.3618; W-3.6204)

a. The invitation to the Lord’s Supper is extended to all who

have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a

right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving

who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to

receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and

brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to

trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who

doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order

to be assured of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus.

b. Baptized children who are being nurtured and instructed

in the significance of the invitation to the Table and the meaning of

their response are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper, recognizing

that their understanding of participation will vary according to their

maturity. (W-4.2002)

a. The session is responsible for authorizing all observances

of the Lord’s Supper in the life of a particular church and shall

ensure regular and frequent celebration of the Sacrament, in no case

less than quarterly. Any other governing body of the church, also,

may appoint times for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper during

their meetings. A governing body may also authorize the celebration

of the Sacrament in connection with the public worship of

some gathering of believers which is under its jurisdiction or in

institutions where it has a missional witness or authorized ministry.

A governing body may delegate the authority to approve the celebration

of the Lord’s Supper to an appropriate overseeing body in

the institutions for which it has responsibility. (cf. W-3.6205)

b. Chaplains or other ministers serving in hospitals, prisons,

schools, or other institutions, and chaplains ministering to members

of the armed forces and their families, may administer the Sacrament

of the Lord’s Supper when authorized to do so by the governing

body which has jurisdiction over the ministry exercised by

the particular minister. The terms of the authority to administer the

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper shall be stated in the minister’s

terms of call or endorsement.

c. For reasons of order the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

shall be administered by a minister of the Word and Sacrament or

commissioned lay pastor when invited by the session and authorized

by the presbytery. Missional concerns may lead to exceptions

as determined and authorized by presbytery. (G-11.0103k, p, z;

G-14.0562)

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