Sacraments in the PC(USA)
Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month and on special occasions. The PC(USA) believes that God alone is host of the Table and it is God that invites all to share in the feast.
We believe that the bread and the cup symbolize the means of grace by which God calls us into community with one another both within the congregation and around the world.
The bread symbolizes Christ’s body, broken for each one of us, for our sins.
The cup (grape juice) symbolizes Christ’s blood, shed for each one of us, for our sins.
“We trust in God the Holy / Spirit . . . who . . . feeds us / with the bread of life and the cup of salvation . . .” These words from “A Brief Statement of Faith” reiterate the importance of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for Presbyterians. They affirm that the initial action of this divine meal begins with God. God in Jesus the Christ offers the bread and the cup and bids us come.
It is the Lord’s feast, hosted by the One who promises an ultimate continuous feast in the Kingdom of God. Under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit the divine host is made present so that a bond of unity can exist among those present and those unseen.
The host welcomes all who accept the invitation to the Table. We who come need not be concerned about our personal appearance or aptitude. What matters is that the love, the grace and the hospitality of the host create unanimity among us. This meal is provided, not because we have earned the right to eat and drink with Jesus, but simply as an act of divine love.
For Presbyterians this divinely initiated meal is one of two sacraments of the church, instituted by God and commended by Christ. We are following in the tradition of the early church when we affirm three primal material elements of life — water, bread, and wine — as the primary symbols of offering life to God. Being washed with the water of baptism, we receive new life in Christ. In eating the bread and drinking the cup offered by God, our memory of the promises is made present by the Holy Spirit.
In the words of John Calvin, sacraments are “a testimony of divine grace toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with mutual attestation of our piety toward [God].” A sacrament is a testimony of God’s favor toward the church, confirmed by an outward sign, with a mutual testifying of our godliness toward God. It is a primal, physical act that signifies a spiritual relationship between personal beings.
From the PC(USA)
As we commune together, we remember the words Jesus said to His Disciples at the Last Supper.
Baptism is one of two sacraments practiced by Presbyterians; Communion is the other.
The act of baptism is deceptively simple—but in a handful of water, there is a deep well
of mystery and meaning.
In baptism, we are called to a new way of life as Christ’s disciples, sharing the good news
of the gospel with all the world.
Presbyterians describe baptism as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace made by God through Jesus and extended to us. In baptism, God claims us as beloved children and members of Christ’s body, the church, washing us clean from sin as we renounce the power of evil and seek the will and way of God.
Presbyterians have recognized baptism as one of two sacraments initiated by Christ in Scripture. All four Gospels report the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22; John 1:29–34). When we are baptized with water in the name of the Trinity, we share in Christ’s own baptism.
Presbyterians celebrate baptism as a communal act of public worship. In the Middle Ages, baptism came to be an increasingly private, family affair, separated from worship. The Protestant Reformation sought to change that, arguing that the power of baptism did not come from the act itself but from its connection with the promise of God conveyed in Scripture. That’s why
Presbyterian baptism is always accompanied by the proclamation of the Word in the context of public worship. Luther and Calvin also insisted that baptism be followed by ongoing instruction in the faith, particularly through the study of the Bible and catechisms.
Presbyterians practice both adult and infant baptism. Infant baptism expresses that it is God who chooses us for faith, discipleship, and salvation; without God, we have no power to claim these things for ourselves. However, we affirm that people come to faith at different stages in life and recognize the baptism of older believers as an equally valid expression of the sacrament.
While pouring or sprinkling water upon the head is most common, Presbyterians also allow for baptism by immersion. Whatever the method, the deep significance of baptism demands a visible and generous use of water, conveying the lavish outpouring of God’s grace, filling believers with the gifts of the Spirit, and overflowing in lives of faithfulness, service, and love.
A teaching elder—a pastor—must preside at the baptism, but it is a congregation’s session that authorizes baptisms and provides for the spiritual growth and nurture of members. In turn, both the family and the congregation promise to contribute to the baptized person’s Christian formation.
Baptism at Front Royal Presbyterian Church
We welcome all to our baptismal font. If you, your child or someone you know would like to be baptized, you may submit the form below to be approved by our session.
The only pre-requisite for baptism in the PC(USA) is that the family or the one desiring baptism be a member of a Christian church.
Baptism is a three way promise between God adopting us as heirs in the Kingdom, an individual’s profession of faith – or parents on behalf of their child and the congregation covenanting to teach and nurture the newly baptized in their faith. Membership in a Christian church allows us to act on part of the Body of Christ universal, promising to uphold that promise whenever and wherever someone is baptized.