The church throughout the world celebrates sacraments. These special ministries use common symbols and familiar procedures to draw us into relationship with God, who seeks to establish covenant with us. The sacraments embody God’s grace and peace and lead to transformation of our lives and communities. The sacraments shape our identity and community life as followers of Jesus Christ. As we experience the blessings available through sacraments, we are empowered to share the peace of Jesus Christ and fulfill our mission in the world.
Sacraments are special ministries given to the church to convey the grace of Jesus Christ to not just his followers but to all God’s children whom Christ yearns to touch with his compassion. Through the sacraments, God sanctifies common elements of creation to bless human life and to renew and form the church to seek the peaceful kingdom of God.
The eight sacraments of Community of Christ make God’s love and mercy visible and available to us. Christians sometimes call the sacraments “a means of grace,” which is a way of saying that God’s Spirit is present in these ministries to help Christ’s love grow in us.
Baptism is a personal expression of faith in Jesus Christ. This is how we first express our commitment to lifelong discipleship. We are promising that we will welcome the stranger into our lives, feed the hungry, love our enemies, and visit the sick and the imprisoned.
Ministers of the church perform baptisms by fully immersing the person in water. A person must be at least eight years old to request a baptism. In Community of Christ this is recognized as the age when a person can fully understand his or her baptism commitment. Some people baptized of water (age eight or older) in an attitude of humility and repentance and as an expression of faith in Jesus Christ may become Community of Christ members through confirmation.
Following baptism, those who wish to express their discipleship as members of Community of Christ, do so through the sacrament of confirmation. Confirmation follows intentional preparation including exploration of the church’s mission, beliefs, and understanding of discipleship expressed through covenant with God and others in sacred community. The sacrament of confirmation recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the disciple’s life. The prayer offered witnesses to the Holy Spirit’s ministry, weaving people’s giftedness into beautiful patterns of community to enrich their discipleship and to strengthen the fabric of the church.
Confirmation is available to those previously baptized of water, whether performed by Community of Christ ministers or other Christian ministers.
Blessing of Children
Following the example of Jesus, parents can bring their little children to ministers of the church for a prayer of blessing.
During this sacrament, two ministers lay their hands on the child and offer a prayer asking God to bless the child and the family. Parents, siblings, or other family members often gather around the child and ministers during the prayer. The congregation shares in the commitment to support the spiritual and physical growth of the child.
This sacrament is usually celebrated in a regular worship service and is available to all regardless of membership.
The Lord’s Supper (Communion)
Community of Christ congregations worldwide regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper (also called Communion or Eucharist) as an opportunity to reflect on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is also a chance to recommit ourselves to following him.
During communion, ministers of the church serve bread and grape juice as symbols of Jesus’ body and blood.
All who believe in Jesus, whether they are members of Community of Christ or not, are welcome to share in communion.
Laying on of Hands for the Sick
Any person who is sick or faces spiritual or emotional challenges may ask for a special prayer of blessing.
During this sacrament, ministers of the church lay their hands on the head of the person and anoint the person with a drop of consecrated oil. The oil symbolizes the love of God. The ministers then offer a prayer asking for God’s blessing in the person’s unique situation.
The sacrament is usually performed in the privacy of a home, hospital room, or quiet area of the church. It is available to all regardless of membership.
The sacrament of marriage celebrates a couple’s sacred covenant to lifelong commitment in the presence of God and with the church as witness.
In Community of Christ, marriage is much more than a legal arrangement. The relationship is to be rooted in the principles of Christ-like love, mutual respect, responsibility, justice, covenant, and faithfulness. The couple pledges to live in mutual love that seeks to make real the love and compassion of Christ.
Community of Christ ministers can perform this sacrament for anyone, regardless of membership, as long as local laws governing marriage are followed.
All are called to live out Christ’s mission, but some people are called and ordained to provide ministry and share the good news of Jesus Christ in particular ways.
In an ordination, priesthood members lay hands on the person’s head and offer a prayer asking for God’s blessing through the ministry of the candidate. The ordained person covenants to follow the Living Christ through continued development of spiritual practices, invitation, mission, lifestyle, generosity, education, and other servant ministry principles.
In Community of Christ both men and women can be ordained.
The evangelist blessing is a special prayer of blessing. It provides words of thanksgiving, assurance, and counsel. When the time comes for the blessing, a minister of the church places his or her hands on the head of the person and offers a special prayer of blessing.
A printed copy of the prayer is given to the person after the sacrament. Individuals are encouraged to reread the prayer throughout their lives for guidance and assurance. The sacrament of evangelist blessing is available to all who are at least eight years old.