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Worship, Baptism, and Communion

Worship

Memorial Presbyterian Church gathers twice each Lord’s Day for worship. Our 8:30 a.m. service is a modified version of the larger 11:00 a.m. service. There is no choir at 8:30, but the music is led from the organ. The 11:00 a.m. service is a fuller service and includes music by the Chancel Choir each week and musical offerings from the Children’s and Bell Choirs on the average of once a month. Both pastors participate in worship leadership each Sunday.

There are several special services during the year to which invite you. During Advent we celebrate a Service of the Blessing of the Greens. Ordinarily held on a Wednesday evening, it features music by children and adult choirs and lots of Christmas carols. On Christmas Eve Memorial holds three services. The 4:30 p.m. service is especially appreciated by families with young children. We also celebrate a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The Sunday after Christmas usually features a Service of Lessons and Carols

The congregation celebrates the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service including the Lord’s Supper and the imposition of ashes. During the weeks of Lent Wednesday Evening Services of Evening Prayer are offered.

On Easter there is a sunrise service in the Memorial Garden and two identical services at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m.

During the summer months, early June through mid-September Memorial goes to one service per Sunday at 10:00 a.m. We have found that this coming together enables the congregation to develop closer ties of friendship.

The first Sunday in October is celebrated as World Communion Sunday at Memorial and the first Sunday in November is ordinarily celebrated as All Saints’ Sunday, the day when we remember and give thanks to God for the saints who have gone before us, especially those who have died in the previous twelve months.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Eucharist) is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month at both services, on Ash Wednesday, and Christmas Eve. The Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated upon a request. Please contact the pastor for more information.

The shape and sound of corporate worship in the Reformed tradition varies from one congregation to another. In part that is a consequence of our worship being governed by a Directory for Worship rather than a Prayer Book (in which the forms for worship are clearly delineated), and it is in part a consequence of the balance we have historically sought to maintain between freedom and form in our liturgical practices. There are, however, some basic emphases that have historically characterized Reformed or Presbyterian worship.

Baptism

The Bible declares that God claimed humanity as God’s own “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4)

“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. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith” (Book of Order, W-2.3008).

Baptism, therefore, usually occurs during infancy, though a person may be baptized at any age. Parents bring their baby to church, where they publicly declare their desire that he or she be baptized. When an infant or child is baptized the church commits itself to nurture the child in faith. When adults are baptized they make a public profession of faith.

Baptism distinguishes children of those who believe in God’s redemptive power from children of nonbelievers. The water that is used symbolizes three accounts from the Bible’s Old Testament: the waters of creation, the flood described in the story of Noah, and the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. All three stories link humanity to God’s goodness through water.

Baptism signifies

  • The faithfulness of God.
  • The washing away of sin.
  • Rebirth.
  • Putting on the fresh garment of Christ.
  • Being sealed by God’s Spirit.
  • Adoption into the covenant family of the Church.
  • resurrection and illumination in Christ.
    (Book of Order, W-2.3004)

Unlike some denominations, Presbyterians do not require a person to be entirely immersed in water during baptism. Baptism is received only once. Its effect is not tied to the moment when it is administered, for it signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) believes that persons of other denominations are part of one body of Christian believers; therefore, it recognizes and accepts baptisms by other Christian churches.

Baptism is almost always administered as part of a worship service. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), baptism must be authorized by the session of a particular congregation and performed by a minister.

 

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Communion and the Eucharist, 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.

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.

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. (Directory for Worship, W-2.4001)