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Below are the guidelines by which the sacrements of Baptism, Wedding, and Funeral must be performed, established by the church to benefit St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church community.
GUIDELINES FOR THE BAPTISM
A date shall be set for baptism in joint consultation with the Pastor and arrangements must be made three months prior to the sacrament.
All baptisms are to follow the Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The Sacraments will be explained by the Pastor.
Baptisms can take place on any day of the week. According to the canon, practice and tradition of the Armenian Church, the Sacrament should be administered anytime during the eighth to the fortieth day after the birth of a child. We do not recommend delaying or deferring the rite for a later time in order to safeguard the spiritual salvation of the child.
According to a directive of the Eastern Diocese, one of the Godparents (Godfather or Godmother) of the child to be baptized must be a baptized and chrismated member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. Each child to be baptized will have only one Godmother and one Godfather. If only one of the Godparents is a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, the other Godparent must have been baptized in the Christian faith.
The specific items needed for baptism (should be provided by the Godparents) are the following:
a) A chain and cross for the Neophyte (Newly Baptized). The cross must be Armenian in style. “Crucifix” style crosses are not part of the tradition of the Armenian Church.
b) The Robe of Gladness”-a white outfit to be worn after the Chrismation.
c) One or two new large white towels not to be used for any other purpose.
d) A “Narod” will be provided by the church. It is recommended that the Pastor meet with the parents and Godparents at least once, prior to the Baptism, in order to explain the Sacrament.
a) To be instructed by the Pastor
The full washing of the child is to be done at home on the third day after the Baptism preferably with Godparents present. The water used for the bath is not to be emptied down the drain, but is to be collected and poured in the soil of a garden or lawn. The reason for this is that there may still be some Holy Muron left on the child’s body which was transferred into the water. Also, when the undergarments of the child are washed for the very first time after the Baptism, the water should be dispensed in the same manner.
Photographs may be taken at any time during the ceremony. Caution should be used by the photographer (or videographer) not to blind the eyes of the Priest, Deacon or any other member of the baptismal party. At no time nor for any reason will the photographer ascend the steps of the Altar or be at the Altar itself.
A baptism is a sacrament of the Armenian Church and a public service and no person may be excluded from the Church, except where the invited list approximates the seating capacity and if cards of admission have been issued.
All payments for the Baptism service must be received in advance to reserve the baptism date and all payments are the responsibility of the persons involved. Payment to the church is $300 for dues paying members. One of the parents of a child should be a dues paying member of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church of Washington, DC for at least two years. Payment to the church is $400 for non-dues paiing members.
The gift to the Pastor shall be left to the family’s discretion. The fee for the services of a visiting or guest priest is according to the individual wishes of the family (the customary minimum gift is $200.00) plus travel expenses. A deacon is necessary during the sacrament and the customary gift is $100.00. If a specific deacon is requested, the Pastor shall be the one to invite him.
Before any guest priest is engaged, the Pastor must be consulted. According to protocol of the Armenian Church, the Pastor must be the one to invite any guest clergy. In addition to an Armenian Priest, should a priest of a different Christian denomination be invited, the Pastor shall decide the appropriateness of his participation. The Pastor will assign to him those portions he sees fit according to the Canons and traditions of the Armenian Church and it should be clear that any priest of a different denomination is an invited guest and not a co-celebrant.
If the Pastor, deacon or other guest clergy are to be invited to a reception, he (they) should be notified in advance.
GUIDELINES FOR THE WEDDING
NO MARRIAGE CAN BE SOLEMNIZED OUTSIDE OF THE HOLY SANCTUARY. THE SACRAMENT TAKES PLACE IN THE CHURCH SENCTUARY BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, BY THE BLESSING OF THE PRIEST.
a) Both the prospective bridegroom and the bride must have received the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation (Confirmation). If there is a question in this regard, the pastor must be consulted. If either party is not a member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, proper documentation of their Baptism (Baptism Certificate) must be presented to the pastor by the first meeting.
b) If either party has been divorced, a dispensation to celebrate the Sacrament must be granted by the Diocesan Bishop of the Armenian Church in accordance with the Canon Law of the Armenian Church. Documentation of the divorce decree (a good photocopy) must be provided to the pastor. The Roman Catholic party should also seek an annulment of their prior marriage if they are to be able to remain in communion with their church.
c) No ceremony can be celebrated if it is the intention that a second religious service in another church is to be held.
a) Arrangements for a marriage to be blessed in the church are to be made at least six months in advance.
b) A date shall be set for the solemnization of the Sacrament of Holy Crowning into Marriage.
c) Finalizing the date for the ceremony must be secured in joint consultation with the Pastor.
d) When all necessary papers are filed, then the chosen date will be confirmed.
e) Failure to submit the requested documents will forfeit the date chosen.
WHEN WEDDINGS CANNOT TAKE PLACE
a) By canon law, no marriage may take place after 4:30pm on Saturday afternoons and before 4:30pm on Sunday afternoons.
b) No marriages may take place at any time during the period of Great Lent (including the first Sunday of Great Lent, Poon Paregentan) and Holy Week, nor on the Feast Days of Easter, Theophany (Armenian Christmas), Transfiguration, Assumption, and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, nor on any Saturday preceding the aforementioned Feast Days and the eight days following Easter through New Sunday (the Sunday following Easter). Also, no weddings may be celebrated on January 13 (The Naming of our Lord Jesus Christ;), February 14 (The Presentation of the Lord to the Temple), April 7 (The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary), and Ascension.
c) No weddings may be celebrated on Wednesdays or Fridays, which are days of fasting.
a) After securing the desired date and time of the wedding ceremony, the couple shall set up an initial meeting with the pastor for premarital instruction and preparation.
b) The proper instructions regarding a Christian marriage is a necessary component of marriage preparations. It is, therefore, expected that the couple will meet with the pastor as often as necessary. During these meetings topics relative to their new life together as Christians and members of the Armenian Church family will be addressed.
a) All marriages are to follow the canon laws of the Armenian Church and the laws of the District of Columbia. It is the responsibility of the parties to carry out the requirements of the legal authorities by applying for a proper marriage license and presenting these documents to the church office ten (10) days prior to the wedding ceremony.
THE BEST MAN
a) The major Sacramental witness of the wedding ceremony is the Brother in the Cross/Khach Yeghpayr, who is likewise the Best Man. He will hold a hand cross over the heads of the couple during a portion of the religious right. This privilege of honor is allowed provided he himself is a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. If there is a situation where a non-Armenian Church member is requested to assume the role of Best Man, this is allowed provided that another male witness in the wedding party, who is himself a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, can participate as the Khach Yeghpayr. The pastor is to be informed if this situation applies. The Maid/Matron of Honor must also be a Christian. These two/three individuals will join the bride and groom at the holy altar. All other attendants will take their places in the front pews.
a) The date and time for the wedding ceremony rehearsal will be determined by the pastor in consultation with the bride and groom to be.
b) The pastor or his designated representative shall have complete charge of the rehearsal.
c) Only members of the wedding party and immediate family need to attend the rehearsal.
d) It is the responsibility of the couple to determine the order of the procession.
e) It is strongly recommended that a facilitator/prompter who is not a member of the wedding party be assigned to coordinate the procession on the day of the wedding so that everything will flow smoothly. He/she should attend the wedding rehearsal and will be given a script of the procedures for the ceremony by the pastor.
f) It is essential that all participants in the wedding rehearsal arrive at the church at least 15 minutes prior to the time set for the rehearsal so that it will begin on time.
g) If you are later than 15 minutes beyond the scheduled time of the wedding rehearsal, we cannot assure that the rehearsal will take place. You will then be responsible for your own arrangements. PLEASE BE PROMPT!
DECORATION OF THE SANCTUARY
a) Requests for adorning the church with flowers, lighting, and other appointments must be approved by the pastor.
b) No furniture or furnishings of the church may be removed from their respective places.
c) Flowers may be placed on the altar table, the floor of the bema (upper sanctuary) and in the chancel, with the exception of the steps leading up to the altar.
d) If flowers are to be taken, the floral arrangements are not to be removed from the altar by any persons other than those designated by the pastor.
e) No decorations shall be nailed or screwed to the furnishings nor attached in any way that would damage the church furniture.
f) The wedding runner/white carpet can be acquired from the florist.
g) Decorations which do not comply with the above will be removed prior to the service.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOUND RECORDING
a) Photography and sound recording are allowed within limitations. Still photographers and videographers should exercise caution and maintain decorum during the actual celebration of the sacramental rite. Most importantly, caution should be used by the photographer not to blind the eyes of the Priest, Deacon or any other participant. At no time and nor for any reason the photographer can stand on the steps of the Altar or be at the Altar itself.
a) All requests for additional music before the ceremony must be approved by the pastor in advance.
a) Ushering and any necessary control of traffic shall be arranged by the bride and groom.
a) The pastor will officially invite guest clergy participants by letter.
b) If the guest priest is a member of the Armenian Church he may be invited to perform the service.
c) If a priest of a different religious tradition to be invited, the Pastor will assign to him those portions he sees fit according to the Canons and traditions of the Armenian Church; and, it should be clear that any priest of a different denomination is an invited guest and not a con-celebrant.
d) If the clergy are to be invited to the reception, an invitation should be sent to them.
e) It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide an invitation to the wedding reception and directions as well as any necessary travel and lodging expenses for the guest clergy assisting the celebrant.
FEES AND DONATIONS
All donations are the responsibility of the wedding party. The customary suggested donation to the Church for Church Members is $500.00. The fee for non-Church members is $750.00. Church service fees are the following:
a) Pastor...............................Family’s Discretion
c) Soloist...............................$100.00 (Upon request: if available)
d) Organist........................... $100.00 (If available)
The fee for the services of a visiting or guest priest is according to the individual wishes of the family (the customary minimum gift is $300.00) plus travel expenses. Should any of the church fees associated with the sacrament become burdensome to the family involved, please bring this to the attention of the Pastor. A wedding is a public service of the Church, and no one may be excluded from the Church by any means.
GUIDELINES FOR THE FUNERAL
According to Canon Law, funerals may not take place on Saturday afternoons after 3:00PM, or on Sundays. All efforts should be made to contact the Pastor before any arrangements are made. Families should make the proper arrangements with the funeral director of their choice, whereupon he/she shall contact the Pastor immediately in order to check availability and finalize arrangements. In the case of cremation and/or suicide the Pastor must be informed prior to making funeral arrangements. It is suggested that a one-page summary of the deceased person’s life be provided to the Pastor at least one day prior to the funeral.
a) For the Home (Wake Service).
b) For the Church (Church Service).
c) For the Cemetery (Graveside Service).
The first shall be performed the night preceding the funeral, the other two subsequently from the Church and then the Cemetery. The Church Service, or part “B” may never be performed at the funeral home nor anywhere outside of the church proper. No lay person may speak or give “Eulogies” in the church sanctuary. It is desirable that lay people speak at the Funeral Home or the Hokejash.
Families are free to use the church for ‘Wake Service’ Dan Gark. An additional fee will be required.
FEES AND DONATIONS:
All donations are the responsibility of the family and should be handled through the Church Office. The customary donation to the church is $500 for non-dues paid members. The fee for dues paid members is $300. The gift to the Pastor shall be left to the family’s discretion. The fee for the services of a visiting or guest priest is according to the individual wishes of the family (the customary minimum gift is $200.00) plus travel expenses.
IN LIEU OF FLOWERS
Donations are made directly to St. Mary Armenian Church. The Church will receive these directly from parishioners and individuals. Any and all envelopes with “St. Mary Armenian Church” printed on the outside, shall be opened only by a representative designated by the Pastor.
According to protocol, before any other priest is invited to participate in a funeral, please consult with the Pastor. The invitation to other clergy must come from the Pastor. Please consult with the Pastor before making arrangements of any kind.