We appreciate your interest in St. Peter’s and hope that the answers to these frequently asked questions will make you feel at ease when you visit and give you a better idea of who we are. Our desire and mission is to be a welcoming and nurturing parish where all people, regardless of age or background, may gather in worship and be unified in the Holy Spirit.
How Do I Become a Member?
If you have been attending St. Peter’s for a while and would like to become a member, there are several ways to do so. • Confirmed Episcopalians may request a Letter of Transfer from the parish they previously attended or, if you have never had a Letter of Transfer issued, from the parish from which you were Confirmed or Received into the Episcopal Church. Forms are available in the parish office. • Baptized non-Episcopalians may join by filling out a membership form that includes personal information and religious history for our membership files. Please note that this information is not shared and is used only for parish purposes. • Unbaptized persons who wish to become Christian should contact our parish priest/rector (Father Perry) for appropriate instruction about baptism. Once you have indicated your desire to be a member of St. Peter’s, we will assign you a sponsor who will assist you in getting acquainted with our parish family and present you with a new members’ packet that will provide you with things you need to know about the life, worship and ministry of St. Peter’s.
What Is Expected of Members?
Members are expected to be active in corporate worship, and faithful in working, praying, and giving to support the life and work of our parish. We value the gifts and talents that each of our members has and we encourage all of our members regardless of age to find ways to use them to enrich and benefit our community of faith. We expect that you will take advantage of some of the many opportunities to serve St. Peter’s through participation in various aspects of our parish life: education (both adult and youth), worship (presence and participation), prayer and care for members of our church, community service and outreach, special parish events and fundraisers, and helping care for our property and buildings, to name a few. Finally, we expect our members to do all of this in a spirit of thanksgiving, to seek to live lives rooted in gratitude and to express our gratefulness by serving others.
May I Receive Communion?
All baptized persons regardless of age or religious affiliation may receive communion in the Episcopal Church as our sign of unity as a people bound together by the love of God. Persons who are not baptized or who choose not to receive communion are invited to come to the altar at the time of communion and receive a blessing.
How Do I Get Married at St. Peters?
We understand marriage to be a Sacrament of the church that is celebrated in the parish in which you hold membership, intend to become a member or in which you have grown up. Pre-marriage counseling is required and must be arranged through the priest at least six months prior to the date of the wedding. If either or both persons have been previously married and divorced, special requirements apply and it is imperative that you contact Father Perry as soon as possible. It is anticipated that, under normal circumstances, those who marry at St. Peter’s will nurture their marriage in the context of this worshipping community. If you decide to become a member of St. Peter’s Church, and wish to marry here, please contact the church office to make an appointment with our clergy who will answer your specific questions.
What Pastoral Services are Available?
• Pastoral visits: Father Perry is always available to schedule pastoral visits with any parishioner who may desire them. For those who wish frequent and regular visits from the parish, designated lay persons from St. Peter’s are ready to arrange a visitation schedule with interested members. Please call the church office to set up appointments or to get more information.
• Healing services: A healing service is a regular part of our weekly Thursday evening Eucharist held at 7 p.m. in the church, and is offered as a part of the home communion service for those who wish. The ministry of healing is part of the sacramental life at St. Peter’s. This sacrament emerges from our belief that the love of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit has the power to heal our emotional, physical and spiritual suffering. Although we may ask for a specific healing, we realize that it is God who decides how this healing is to occur. Healing may come to us in the form of physical recovery, emotional well-being or spiritual wholeness. Whatever form it takes, the power of the healing service lies not with our expectation of results, but rather with our openness to allow the Spirit of God who dwells within us to transform our lives and open us to God’s love. All persons at St. Peter’s are invited to attend our healing services.
• Hospital visitations: If you or someone you know is hospitalized and would like Father Perry or a member of St. Peter’s to make a pastoral visit or to bring communion, please notify Father Perry as soon as possible. Because of privacy issues, we encourage anyone who is hospitalized to list St. Peter’s as your church and identify yourself as an Episcopalian, in order to minimize any difficulties we might have with hospital staff in responding to your request.
• Home communions: Communion may be brought to any parishioner who is homebound or otherwise unable to attend regular worship at St. Peter’s. Father Perry makes routine home communion visits about 4 to 6 times a year to interested parishioners. For persons wishing more regular home communions, you may request that a “Lay Eucharistic Minister” contact you to arrange suitable times that he or she might bring you communion.
• Pastoral counseling: Father Perry is available to any member of the parish who has a pastoral need or desires spiritual direction. For those members needing more in depth, ongoing counseling, he can suggest area counselors whom you might wish to contact. If you want to set up a meeting with Father Perry, please contact him through the parish office.
How Can I Give to St. Peters?
• Stewardship: Stewardship is more than just a program for giving – it is a way of life! A person who lives a life of stewardship recognizes first that God has given us all we have: our life, our abilities, our resources and our world. Recognition of God’s gifts leads us into gratefulness for the blessings of our lives. With grateful hearts we give thanks to God for the richness of our lives. This lifestyle naturally leads us to become gift-givers ourselves, using our presence (time spent), our talents and our resources to help and support both one another and our parish family. We do this by pledging financial support and by pledging our time and talent for the benefit of our church community.
• Pledging and Financial Support: Making a financial commitment to the church helps the church meet its budgetary needs and enables us to expand our ministry and program as we seek to be a Christian presence in our communities and the world. Although we welcome any donations offered at our worship services, we encourage each family to pledge a specific amount for the annual financial support of St. Peter’s, thereby enabling our vestry to be wise in its financial oversight.
• How Much Should I Pledge? When you make a financial pledge to St. Peter’s, we ask that you do so in the spirit of a life of stewardship, that is, to give out of thanksgiving for the blessings in your life. Each family will have to reflect on its income level, its responsibilities and its needs in determining what to offer as a pledged amount. The Episcopal Church has endorsed the “tithe” or 10% of family income as the standard of giving. Although the vast majority of families in the Episcopal Church today give significantly less that this goal, the “tithe” remains a benchmark that leads us to reflect seriously on how we distribute the resources we are blessed with in our lives. All we at St. Peter’s ask is that you consider making a pledge to support us and that you do so in a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving. Father Perry and Vestry members are always available to provide resources to assist you in making your decision.
• Pledging of Time & Talent: Making a commitment to become involved in the worship, activity and overall life of the parish helps our church grow into being a vibrant, diverse and welcoming community of faith. Although financial support is necessary to maintain our staff, our programs and our buildings, the presence of people of all ages at our worship services, our fellowship and education events, our fundraisers and our pastoral and outreach activities is very life-blood of our parish. We therefore ask all of our members that, when considering an annual pledge to St. Peter’s, you include a commitment to our church by using your time and your talent for the benefit of our parish family.