LIFE EVENTS

BAPTISM

Welcoming a New Life into Christianity
"For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ Jesus have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
—Galatians 3:26-28

At St. John’s, our baptism proceedings feature a traditional service and response from the congregation. The minister proudly brings the child out into the congregation to meet the church family. We give all parents the seashell used during the baptism ceremony and a copy of the days New York Times to commemorate this special day.

Who is baptized in the UCC?
Infants, children, youth and adults. For infants and children, as well as for youth and adults who have never been baptized before, baptism marks their acceptance into the care of Christ's church, the sign and seal of God's grace and forgiveness, and the beginning of their Christian faith and life.

What does Baptism signify?
The sacrament of baptism is an outward and visible sign of the grace of God. Through baptism, a person is joined with the universal church, the body of Christ. In baptism, God works in us the power of forgiveness, the renewal of the spirit, and the knowledge of the call to be God's people always.

How does Baptism take place?
Baptism with water and the Holy Spirit is the sign and seal of our common discipleship. Since baptism is God's gift, the Holy Spirit is called to be upon the water and those being baptized. The act of baptism also marks the beginning of new life of discipleship with Christ, the human response to that gift.

Why is water used?
Water is an essential element of baptism. Water is a prominent symbol of cleansing and life in the Bible—the water of creation, the great flood, the liberation of Israel through the sea, the water of Mary's womb, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the woman at the well, and Jesus' washing of the feet of the disciples. That is why water is visibly present in the service. In the United Church of Christ, the mode of baptism is a matter of choice. Some traditions use sprinkling, some pouring, and some immersion.

CONFIRMATION

Your “all in” moment

Confirmation is the opportunity for our youth to affirm the baptism vows their parents made for them when they were younger. It’s the chance to say “I’m all in!” when it comes to following Jesus and living as he’s called us to live. It is their moment to claim the faith for themselves and take responsibility for following and serving and loving Christ in their lives in this community of faith.

The Rite of Confirmation is administered once per year at a spring worship service, following the completion of the confirmation classes.

Confirmation class is offered to 8th grade students (or any age older who want to be confirmed), typically completed at age 14. Class starts in September and lasts through May when students are confirmed. The classes, lead by the pastor, meet about twice a month on Sundays after worship for about one hour. Each class is filled with information about Jesus’s life, how to live your life as a Christian, and how to serve others. In addition to classes, each student works with an adult mentor from the congregation, who also attends class.

During the Confirmation service, shares their faith statements with the congregation. The entire congregation supports the confimand, hearing their stories of their journey of faith so far and welcoming these newest, full members, into the life of faith at St. John’s.

WEDDINGS

Marriage

The beautiful sanctuary at St. Johns provides the perfect setting for weddings. The location of our church in the downtown area is close to many of the area’s best wedding reception locations, as well as the beautiful Allentown Park system featuring the Malcolm Gross rose garden and old fashioned gardens.

Our church has hosted many weddings over the years for our members and friends of St. Johns. As part of our Open and Affirming pledge, same sex marriages are welcome at St. Johns.

The Marriage Ceremony

The essence of marriage is a covenanted commitment that has its foundation in the faithfulness of God’s love. The marriage ceremony is the glad occasion on which two people unite in the mutual exchange of covenant promises. The one presiding acts as an official representative of the church and gives the marriage the church’s blessing. The congregation joins in affirming the marriage and in offering support and thanksgiving for the new family. It is the responsibility of the one who presides to meet with the couple prior to the marriage ceremony in order to counsel them concerning the Christian understanding of this relationship.

Congregational participation, ethnic traditions, and local customs may be taken into consideration when planning the Order for Marriage. Hymns and other music of joy, praise, and thanksgiving may be included in the service after consultation with the congregation’s music leaders and in keeping with a sense of the appropriateness of their use in a religious service. Psalms may be sung or said responsively, and other readings or statements may be used. The one presiding will invite the couple to share in the writing and planning of their service.

It is the responsibility of the one presiding at the marriage to understand and conform to the laws in the place where the ceremony is to be held. Our Ministerial Staff at St. John’s are always happy to assist a couple through the planning and execution of a beautiful ceremony designed especially for the couple.

FUNERALS

Planning a funeral is a difficult task. The Ministerial staff of St. John’s will comfort and guide you through this difficult process. The minister will gather information about your friend or loved one to help prepare the eulogy and service for the funeral. Please contact the church office for assistance.

IN AN EFFORT TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR THIS DIFFICULT CONVERSATION,
BELOW IS A LIST OF QUESTIONS YOU MAY BE ASKED AS ST. JOHN’S PREPARES THE SERVICE:

What setting is appropriate for the memorial service? Examples include: the church, a funeral home, a cemetery or military base, a family location, etc.


What hymns are appropriate? (Generally 2 or 3 hymns are sung, with additional music included in Prelude or Postlude.)
Examples include: Bless Be the Tie that Binds, As Thou Wilt, This is My Father’s World, He Lives, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, Peace Perfect Peace, O For A Thousand Tongues, My Jesus, Amazing Grace, and It is Well with My Soul.


Are there other musical selections other than hymns that may be included?
What scripture readings are appropriate?
(Generally 2 or 3 passages are read.) Examples include:
Psalm 139, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 14, 1 Corinthians 13, 2 Timothy 4:6b-8, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, Psalm 121, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 46, or other scripture passages that have been meaningful to your faith journey.


Are there additional readings, including poetry, that could be shared?


Who will be participating in the memorial service? Clergy, family, friends?


Are there specific events about your friend or loved one’s life (accomplishments, associations, memories, etc.) that you would like to be shared?


Have you made preparations with a funeral home for your burial arrangements? Name, address and contact information will be needed.


Would you like to designate the church or another charitable organization to receive memorial gifts in lieu of flowers?


Does your friend or loved one have any special requests or symbolic items that you would like included in the display area and service? Examples include: a solo sung by a family member or items such as an American flag, a special piece of jewelry, or photos of family members.

We all want to honor the life of our friend or loved one the way they would choose to be remembered. To do this, planning ahead can help ease the process. Below, you’ll find a form you can use to help your friends and loved ones by providing the information to the church ahead of time. This form will be kept secure by our Ministerial staff until the time it is needed.

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