First and most important, you are always welcome to come and participate. If, as you grow in your life in Christ, you would like to join with us in a formal way, we hope that you will contact the church office at 936-756-8831 or a member of the clergy as soon as is convenient.
Membership in St. James the Apostle involves regular attendance at worship, a commitment to continued growth through Christian education, giving for the spread of the Kingdom as one is able, and undertaking a ministry on behalf of others.
There are a number of ways you can become a member of St. James:
Baptism, Confirmation and Reception.
This is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the church. God establishes an indissoluble bond with each person in baptism. God adopts us, making us members of the church and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. In baptism we are made sharers in the new life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the foundation for all future church participation and ministry. Each candidate for baptism in the Episcopal Church is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons. Sponsors (godparents) speak on behalf of candidates for baptism who are infants or younger children and cannot speak for themselves at the Presentation and Examination of the Candidates. During the baptismal rite the members of the congregation promise to do all they can to support the candidates for baptism in their life in Christ. They join with the candidates by renewing the baptismal covenant. The water of baptism may be administered by immersion or affusin (pouring). Candidates are baptized “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and then marked on the forehead with the sign of the cross. The baptismal promises are made for infants by their parents or sponsors, “who guarantee that the infants will be brought up within the Church, to know Christ and be able to follow him”
Being confirmed, received, and reaffirmed.
What do the different terms mean? Who are these rites for?
Baptism is the ancient entry rite into the Church, which is also called “the Body of Christ.” In baptism, we affirm that we belong to the God who is made known to us in Jesus, and we promise (or, if we are infants or very young children, promises are made on our behalf) to live our lives in accordance with this deepest truth about who we are and whose we are. Confirmation in the Episcopal Church is a sacramental rite in which a baptized person makes a mature and public affirmation of the promises that are usually made at baptism by parents and godparents. After making these affirmations, a bishop in apostolic succession lays hands on the candidate and prays a prayer of confirmation. (See the Book of Common Prayer for the promises made at Holy Baptism, pp. 299-308, and for the proceedings at the service of Confirmation, pp. 413-419.)
In some dioceses, reception is reserved for those who have already been confirmed in another denomination by a bishop in apostolic succession (such as Roman Catholics or Orthodox). A more widely accepted understanding of reception is that it is a way of honoring anyone who has made a mature confession of faith in any other denomination by saying, in effect, we recognize and honor your spiritual journey in another fellowship, and we welcome you into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church, as you continue that journey. The bishop lays hands on the person being received and says, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 418). So, if you have not been confirmed or received by a bishop in apostolic succession, you may choose either confirmation or reception, although tradition might nudge you toward confirmation.
Reaffirmation is for people who have already been confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Some people presented to the bishop during the service of Confirmation are there to “reaffirm” their Christian vows. These might be people who have been away from the church for a period of time and want to make a new beginning. Others might be people who sense that they are at a new stage in their spiritual life and want to affirm this in ritual. Periodically, a spouse, fiancé or parent who is already a confirmed Episcopalian will go through reaffirmation as a way of honoring his or her family member’s decision to become a confirmed Episcopalian, saying in effect, “We are in this together.” We all go through many changes in our life’s journey, and reaffirmation provides a rite for those who want to take stock of their religious and spiritual life anew.
To inquire about Confirmation classes, Reception or Reaffirmation, contact the Church Office at (936)756-8831.
If you are already a baptized and confirmed member of an Episcopal congregation, simply let us know that you’re ready to transfer your membership and we will gladly begin the process.