Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Tuesday, August 20, 2013





This pamphlet by The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara, Missioner for Asiamerica Ministries of The Episcopal Church was written as an introductory material for newcomers to St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373 August 25, 2013 where he also serves as Priest-in-Charge.

There are seven (7) sacraments in The Episcopal Church. Baptism and Holy Communion are the two major sacraments. They are expressly mandated in the Bible. The other five sacraments are traditional practices gained after generations of church life. These five other sacraments are: Confirmation, Ordination, Marriage (holy matrimony), Penance (reconciliation of the penitent) and Healing (or unction of the sick).

A sacrament is defined as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” The signs are seen by our naked eyes, the grace is discerned through our faith.

In Baptism, the outward and visible sign is Water administered to the person by the priest with the words, “(Name), I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The grace is the faith that we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, adopted as children of God and receive new birth and life in the Holy Spirit.

In baptism, we become full members of the Body of Christ, the Church. All people baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, all major Protestant denominations and all Christian bodies who baptize in the Holy Trinity, are recognized as valid baptisms. The Episcopal Church does not “re-baptize.” There is only “one baptism” as we spoken in the creeds of the universal Church.

Baptism is therefore our entrance into full membership in the Church. In the past history of the Episcopal Church, you need to be confirmed by the bishop to take Holy Communion. But starting from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, all those who are baptized, when they are able and so desire, will not be denied to partake of the Holy Communion. The Holy Communion is the “Lord’s Table.” It is not the Priest or Bishop’s table and so everyone who is members of His Body, the Church can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Can infants and children be baptized? In Book of Acts, when the Church first came to being, over 3,000 people were initially baptized in the name of Christ and become parts of the early Church. They included parents and children. In infant baptism, the promises in the Baptismal Covenant are spoken by parents and godparents and are considered to be a “deposit of faith.”  At a certain age, the child would “confirm” the Covenant in the Confirmation ceremony.

Can baptized children take Holy Communion? Yes, as they are accompanied by parents or godparents or as discerned by the priests administering the Holy Communion. The Holy Communion is also called The Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or Thanksgiving, and the Holy Mass all of which are a privilege of a person who has been baptized.

Are non-baptized people able to take Holy Communion? Ordinarily, the Episcopal Church gives communion only to those who are baptized. The church operates on the “honor system” and would not check your credentials if you come and open your hand to receive communion. However, if you are aware that you are not baptized, you may come to the altar, cross your hands over your breast and the priest will offer a special prayer for blessings. It would then be appropriate to ask for Baptism if you so desire to become full member of the Church.  

How to take Holy Communion:                                                          
In the sacrament Holy Communion, bread and wine are the outward and visible symbols; the Body and Blood of Christ taken in faith are the inward and spiritual grace. Therefore we come to receive Holy Communion in reverence and awe

During Communion Time (which follows after The Word of God, the Creed, Prayers of the People, the Offertory, Great Thanksgiving, etc.), join the procession of people to the Communion Rail, then kneel or stand before the minister:

1. Cup your hands out in front of you, palms up, right hand on top of left hand and wait for the priest or the Eucharistic minister to place a piece of bread on it.

2. Place the bread in your mouth and consume it, or when the wine chalice comes to you, you may sip from the chalice or dip the bread into the wine and then place it in your mouth. 

3. Return to your seat and wait for the post communion prayer and concluding parts of the liturgy.
For more information on the sacraments and other beliefs of The Episcopal Church, obtain a copy of “Being Episcopalian: Questions and Answers About The Episcopal Church” or read The Catechism (or Outline of Faith), pages 843-862 of the Book of Common Prayer (Church Hymnal Corporation, 1979).

 To obtain a copy of "Being Episcopalian," Email Ms. Angeline Cabanban of the Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 at: acabanban@episcopalchurch.org.

1 comment:

  1. If i honor not the Nestorian 'Christians'; can i still be Episcopalian? If i reject ecumenism with Catholics, and i demand that the idolatry of the Nation-State of Israel be squashed by Protestant Supersessionism, i am an Episcopalian?