What are the Sacraments?

“The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.” Book of Common Prayer, p. 857

The sacraments of the church are central to our expression of the Christian faith. In the sacraments we receive God’s gifts of grace, comfort, and strength for daily living as Christians. The Episcopal Church observes the two great sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist, as well as five additional sacramental rites: Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick.

Even as these seven sacraments are considered by the Church to be the assured and reliable way that God’s grace is received in our lives, we also affirm that God’s activity is not limited to them. God reaches out to us in countless ways in the hopes of drawing us ever more deeply into love and fellowship. In fact, we affirm that all of life is sacramental and a channel by which God’s grace flows into our world.

Holy Baptism

In the waters of Baptism God lovingly adopts us into the Body of Christ, a family which we call the church. In baptism we discover that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We recognize the validity of baptisms performed in any Christian denomination. In the Episcopal Church we baptize adults, teens, children, and infants.

If you have not been previously baptized and would desire this sacrament, please contact a member of our clergy to begin preparations.

Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament given us by Christ as a continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection. In the Eucharist we ask for God’s blessing of bread and wine, following Christ’s example at the Last Supper, in a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” and experience Christ’s real and lasting presence with and for us.

This great sacrament is known by several names in the Christian tradition, including: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy, and the Mass. Eucharist comes from a Greek word that means “thanksgiving.”

This is the family meal for Christians and all baptized persons are welcome and invited to receive the Eucharist in our church.


Confirmation is the sacramental rite by which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength for Christian living from the Holy Spirit by prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop. Related to the rite of Confirmation are the rites of Reception (for those formally wishing to join the Episcopal Church) and Reaffirmation (for those returning to or renewing their Christian commitment).


Ordination is the sacramental rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop. In the Episcopal Church bishops have a ministry of leading and unifying the faithful; priests have a ministry of preaching, teaching, and administering the sacraments in a local faith community; deacons have a ministry of proclaiming the Gospel through service and outreach. In all cases, ordained ministers complement and support the ministry of all the baptized persons of God—in our tradition, every Christian has a ministry!

Holy Matrimony

Holy Matrimony is the sacrament of Christian marriage, in which two persons enter into a lifelong union by making vows before God and the local faith community. Thereby the couple receives the grace and blessing of God, and the support of the Church, to help them fulfill those vows.

Reconciliation of a Penitent

Reconciliation of a Penitent is the sacramental rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, receiving the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution. Also known as Confession, this sacrament helps us to renew our Christian faith when we become burdened by sin and reminds us of the great truth of baptism: nothing can separate us from the love of God. No one is required to make a confession, but anyone may choose to avail themselves of Reconciliation.

Unction of the Sick

Unction (Anointing) of the Sick is the sacramental rite of laying hands upon the sick or dying and anointing them with holy oil, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body. Good Shepherd regularly offers Unction as part of our worship for those who desire healing. Unction is also a part of the so-called “Last Rites” that are offered to those who are dying. Should you need the Anointing of the Sick or Last Rites, please contact a member of the clergy through the Parish Office, 316-721-8096.