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Baptism

Generally, baptism is considered an admission or initiation into Christianity.  In most cases, water is used as John the Baptist baptized Jesus.  In most churches, baptism is considered a sacrament.  Also, the baptism of infants is practiced in many major faiths.  The form of baptism may vary, from total immersion, to the pouring of water over the candidate or child, and using the Trinitarian formula of baptism – “In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”  The Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Orthodox Churches accept baptism performed by other denominations within this group as valid, subject to certain conditions, including the use of the Trinitarian formula. It is only possible to be baptized once with valid baptisms from these, and other, denominations.  In most cases, being re-baptized is not required upon conversion to another denomination.

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Confirmation

Where infant baptism occurs, Confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism.  In some Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church – USA), and the Methodist Churches, Confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation is viewed as a sacrament that is “necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.”  In Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed Churches, confirmation is a rite that often includes a profession of faith by an already baptized person.  Confirmation, in whatever form or type of ceremony, is often followed by a celebration with family and friends, where the giving gifts to recognize the event and maturity into the faith community takes place.

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First Communion

First Communion is a ceremony in some Christian traditions that occurs during the season of Easter.  It is a time in which a person first receives the Eucharist. It is most common in the Latin Church tradition of the Catholic Church, as well as in many parts of the Lutheran Church and Anglican Communion. In churches that celebrate First Communion, it typically occurs between the ages of seven and thirteen. Celebrations surrounding First Communion vary, but often include family gatherings to celebrate the event.  In addition, family members, god-parents and friends may give special gifts of a religious nature to the communicant. Depending on the religious denomination, this may include a bible or prayer book, rosary, saint’s medal or pin, and/or related gift items to mark the event.

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Weddings

Weddings are joyful occasions in which a ceremony and rituals take place uniting two people in marriage.  Christian weddings provide a blessing and include a pledge by the community to support the couple’s relationship.  The most important traditions for Christian weddings are the blessing and exchange of wedding bands and the bride and groom each offering his or her own wedding vows.  In the Catholic, Orthodox and other churches, marriage is considered a sacrament, and is a ceremony presided over by a Christian priest or pastor. Ceremonies are based on reference to God, and are frequently embodied into other church ceremonies such as Mass.  In addition to the elements surrounding the actual wedding ceremony, giving gifts to the newly married couple is common, including religious articles.

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