Christian Initiation is the term given to the process by which infants, children or adults become members of the Body of Christ and are incorporated into the community of the Church. The sacrament which celebrates this process is called Holy Baptism. Baptism plays an important role in the life of the whole congregation. Therefore it is not only a moment of personal significance, but a community event celebrated within the context of Christian worship with the community present to support and receive new members into the family of God’s people. Baptism is a once-and-for-all sacrament which takes one’s whole life to finish. Because it is a process more than a moment, it is important that the decision for baptism is made thoughtfully and prayerfully within the context of regular private and corporate worship as well as participation in the parish community.
When do baptisms take place?
Baptisms normally take place 5 times per year during the Sunday Eucharist. The clergy can advise you of upcoming dates.
Is there preparation for baptism?
When you are ready for baptism, we invite you to call the office and speak to the clergy who will arrange a visit with you.
Who may be baptized?
People of all ages may be baptized: infants, children, and adults. Because baptism is initiation into a community of faith, we invite you to attend Sunday worship for a time prior to baptism in order to become acquainted with the liturgical life of the parish, and to become involved in the Christian community in some form, i.e., an outreach or educational program, volunteer time in a parish project; reading or serving at worship services, assisting at coffee hour etc. etc. There are many ways to become involved in the parish and local community.
What about godparents and sponsors?
If you have an infant or young child for baptism, you may ask one or two people to act as godparents. Adult candidates may choose a sponsor. The godparents and sponsors present you or your child at the baptismal service. Godparents and sponsors are friends or family members who share your Christian faith and will support you as you make baptismal promises. They are asked to share in the responsibility of Christian nurture and formation of their godchild.
What promises will I be making?
In the baptismal service, after the Scriptures are read and a sermon is preached, the candidates for baptism are presented to the presiding celebrant, after which the congregation is asked to make a promise to the candidates as they join the community of faith. The congregation will then join with the candidates in reciting our common faith in the ancient baptismal creed of the early church called The Apostles’ Creed. The entire congregation with the baptismal candidates then affirm together a series of promises which draw out the implications of the baptismal covenant.
Symbols used in baptism
Water is life-giving, cleansing and essential to sustain life. Each person is sprinkled with water blessed by the presiding celebrant.
Oil blessed by the bishop is used by the celebrant to trace the sign of the cross on the candidate’s forehead with the words.
Light in the form of a candle is given to each candidate as a symbol of the movement from darkness to light, new life and resurrection.
The service continues with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist where we all participate in the family meal of the Church.
Baptism makes us full members of the Church which means that infants, children and adults are all welcome to receive this sacrament of bread and wine. It may be of interest to know that in 1986 the Lambeth Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion gave permission for baptized children to receive holy communion regardless of their age, however parents may choose to admit their children to the eucharist after a period of instruction suitable to their age. You may discuss this further with the clergy.
And then what?
Then the life-long process of living into our baptism begins: sharing regularly in the holy eucharist, worshipping with other Christians, developing the practice of prayer and service to others based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and participating in the life of the Christian community.
Baptism is the beginning of a new way of life and we welcome you into it.