The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Episcopal
Chappaqua, New York
Pastoral Services at St. Mary’s
Our worship reaches beyond Sunday mornings to mark important transitions in life. Three important life milestones are Baptism, Marriage, and Burial.
Baptism is a rite of initiation into the Body of Christ. As such it is important that the ceremony be a part of the public worship of the Church gathered. Therefore, it is the practice at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin to conduct baptisms during the usual worship services at either the 8:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. Sunday service during the fall and winter months or at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday service during the summer schedule.
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer says, “Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present.” (pg. 312) We, at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, agree with the Prayer Book and try to limit Baptisms to the above mentioned dates. Another appropriate date for baptism at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin is on our Matronal Feast, The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin, which is in August. If there are extreme circumstances mitigating against any of these dates for your or your child’s baptism please discuss these with the Rector.
Eligibility for Baptism at St. Mary’s
Baptism is offered to any adult who feels called to make a commitment to the Christian way of life. The baptism of infants is contingent upon the intent of the parents to maintain a relationship with the parish and to bring the child up in a Christian Community of Faith as they vow to do in the course of the baptismal liturgy.
Preparation for the Service
Adults who wish to be baptized are expected to take part in a catechetical course of study. This study will be arranged with the Rector. Adults will also be responsible for securing a sponsor to study with them during the catechetical period and to present them at the baptismal service. The sponsor is ideally a person who is currently a communicant in good standing at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
The parents of children who are candidates for baptism are likewise expected to secure sponsors or godparents for their child. Parents can choose more than one sponsor for their child. One sponsor should be a communicant in good standing at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
Parents and sponsors of children being baptized are expected to meet at least once with the Rector to discuss the service and their responsibilities through the baptism of their child. That meeting will be set at the convenience of all parties by the Rector.
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St. Mary’s is a parish church and its use for services of marriage is reserved for members of the parish and their families. Other persons should consult with the Rector about the possibility of being married at St. Mary’s.
Marriage is a Sacramental Rite of the Church. A wedding is one of life’s great moments, a time for good wishes, feasting and joy. St. John tells us how Jesus shared in such an occasion, and gave there a sign of new beginnings.
Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship-God’s blessing enables a couple to love and support each other in good times and bad. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between two persons, made and celebrated in the presence of God and before a priest and congregation.
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At the Time of Death
When a person is near death the clergy should be notified as soon as possible by contacting the Church Office at 238–8751 or the Rector. When appropriate the clergy will provide “Ministrations at the Time of Death” (BCP 462ff.) if so desired. Prior to the funeral it is appropriate for family and friends to gather for prayers. The clergy will be available to offer “Prayers for a Vigil” (BCP 465) the day or evening before the funeral service if so desired by the family.
The death of a member of the Church should be reported as soon as possible to and arrangements for the funeral made in consultation with, the clergy.
Christians are normally buried from the Parish Church, not a funeral home. The service is ideally held at a time when the Congregation has the opportunity to be present.
In all cases the family of the deceased can expect the priest to be available for consultation concerning the funeral and to notify the mortician of arrangements involving the Church. If so desired the priest will accompany the family member(s) when they consult with the mortician.
Concerning the Coffin at the Church In Anglican funerary practice, the coffin remains closed once it is brought to the Church for the funeral. Ideally the body or cremains may be brought to the Church as soon as possible to allow friends to pay prayerful respects and may remain in the Church overnight before the funeral. When the coffin or urn arrives at the door of the Church, the priest is to conduct “Reception of the Body” (BCP 466) with family members present. If this occurs prior to the service, the family joins the procession following the coffin or urn until they reach their seats.
The funeral is an act of worship. Sacred music (i.e. texts from Scripture, the Prayer Book, The Church’s Hymnal, or its supplement) is the norm for funerals in the Episcopal Church. It is desirable that the Congregation sing hymns at the funeral.
No flowers are normally brought into the Nave or Sanctuary of the Church with the exception of those designated for the adornment of the Altar. It is customary that the family of the person who has died provides the flowers at the Altar. The family may specify in death notices sent to newspapers that memorial contributions may be made to the parish or to charities in lieu of flowers.
Customarily the funeral pall is used to cover the coffin or urn in the Church as a sign of the fact that there is no distinction between persons in death. A Corporal is used when there are cremains.
Cremation is neither encouraged nor discouraged by the Church. It is seen to be an appropriate means of disposing of bodily remains for Christians. The cremains may be brought to the funeral as a coffin would be and may be prominently or discreetly placed near the Altar during the service.
Services of Fraternal Societies
Only official liturgies for the Burial of the Dead from The Book of Common Prayer may be conducted at a funeral in the Church. Where fraternal rites are desired, they should precede the Church service, either at the home of the deceased, the fraternal meeting place, or funeral home.
The American flag may be substituted for the funeral pall. The officer or non- commissioned officer in command of a military detail should confer with the priest before the committal as to proper arrangements.
The Holy Eucharist
It is very appropriate that a Church member’s life and death be celebrated with a Eucharist. Both Rite I and Rite II Burial Offices are designed in a Eucharistic context. The Church and Holy Scripture teach that an appropriate way to “give thanks for the life of a brother or sister” and to celebrate our continued relationship in the Communion of Saints is by means of the Holy Eucharist. A Requiem Eucharist is usually appropriately uplifting. The decision regarding the nature of the Funeral Service is always made by the family in consultation with the priest. All Eucharistic liturgies in use at St. Mary’s (Rites I and II and Enriching Our Worship) are available for the service.
There is no charge for the use of the Church by members of the parish. However, it is appropriate for families to offer honoraria to the Director of Music. The amounts are left up to the discretion of the family; however, a suggested range would be $175 to $300. Honoraria for the clergy are done on a personal basis or a gift may be made to the priest’s discretionary account.
Prayers for the Deceased
It is customary to remember the deceased at parish liturgies prior to the funeral. On All Saints Sunday it is the practice of St. Mary’s to remember at the Prayers of the People (per the family’s request) all those who have died.
Interment at The Church of St. Mary the Virgin
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin has created a Memorial Garden where cremains only may be interred. The Olive White Memorial Garden is on the south side of the Church and is distinguished by its granite-capped stone wall on which interred persons' names, birth dates, and death dates may be inscribed. Only ashes may be interred; receptacles or urns are not permitted. There is no cost for interment of parishioners or their family members on parish property.
Burial of Non-Christians
No one (including suicides) is to be refused the ministry of the Church during death’s hour. The clergy of The Church of St. Mary the Virgin are available to provide funerary services for family members who do not profess Christianity as their Way. In those instances, the service of “Burial of One Who Does Not Profess the Christian Faith” from The Book of Occasional Services will be used.
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