“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church”
Book of Common Prayer, p. 298
In the waters of Baptism we are reminded that we belong to God and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Infants, children, adolescents, and adults are invited to be baptized because it sacramentally seals their union with Christ in the church. The bond that Christ establishes in Baptism is indissoluble, that means that baptism is administered once, regardless of the Christian church or denomination where it takes place. When a person is baptized in the Episcopal Church it means that they are given to God with love to live out the Baptismal Covenant in the context of an Episcopal church community, by participating in the life of the church's worship, mission and ministries.
Interested in the sacrament of Baptism? Visit us and ask one of the clergy to meet with you and talk about the sacrament. For infant baptisms the parent(s) or caregiver(s) are invited to meet with the clergy. For candidates over the age of five, the church provides age-appropriate baptismal catechism. Baptism is part of your spiritual journey, not the culmination of one.
Confirmation and Reception
The sacramental rite of Confirmation is defined in the Book of Common Prayer as "a mature and public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of Baptism." At Confirmation, an individual receives the laying on of hands and blessing of a bishop, thereby affirming their own faith and visibly connecting to the broader Body of Christ. The sacramental nature of Confirmation is a personal choice and affirmation to continue growing in faith and in relationship with God. Instruction classes for teenagers age 15 and older and for adults are provided.
The rite of Reception is for anyone who has been confirmed in another Christian denomination (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.) and wants to become an Episcopalian. Baptized persons who have been confirmed are invited to be received into the Episcopal Church.
These sacramental rites are performed during the annual Bishop's Visitation. Call the parish office for the upcoming visitation date.
Holy Eucharist and First Communion
Holy Eucharist and Holy Baptism are the two great sacraments that the Bible tells us Jesus Christ received and gave: he was baptized by his cousin John and he broke bread at the Last Supper with his disciples. We remember Christ in these sacraments and uphold the other five sacramental rites as well: confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent (confession), and unction (last rites).
The tradition of the Episcopal Church regarding First Communion is that any baptized person can receive the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. At the same time we honor the religious tradition of First Communion that former Roman Catholic sisters and brothers bring to The Episcopal Church.
At St. Gabriel's we offer catechism for adults and children who wish to honor the First Communion spiritual rite of passage in a Eucharistic Service. We teach about the meaning of communion within our Episcopal context, we encourage families to prepare for the First Communion even if the baptized person has received the Eucharist because it is an opportunity to learn about Jesus and the sacrament and because it brings families into a long-term commitment with the local parish/mission. It is our goal to involve the parents, caregivers, and siblings in the catechism of their child's learning.
Holy Matrimony and The Blessing of a Union
Holy Matrimony and Holy Unions are solemn and public covenants between two people who love one another and wish to have their union blessed before God and the community. Weddings take place at St. Gabriel's in the Belmont Ridge Middle School, at St. James - our mother church in historic Leesburg, and occasionally at other venues. Same-sex blessings are authorized by The Episcopal Church and celebrated by the faith community of St. Gabriel's. We believe that the covenant between two people in love who wish to be married or have their civil marriage blessed requires prayerful preparation and the support of their faith community. Thus, we require couples to participate in a series of pre-marriage conversations with a priest, and we encourage their participation in the life of the parish. For more information please contact the parish office (703-779-3616).