What makes baptism of a youth or adult from the baptism of an infant?
The primary difference is that when an infant or small child is baptized, the parents make the baptismal promises on behalf of the child. The parents promise to bring their child up in the Christian faith and set an example of faithful living for the child to emulate. When a youth or adult is baptized, he or she prays about, considers and then makes the baptismal promises him or herself. All Christians continue to grow and change in their faith no matter at what age they are baptized.
Baptism is one of the two great sacraments of the Gospel. In baptism, God adopts us as children and makes us members of Christ’s Body and the Church. Baptism requires the making of vows in which we state that we will live as Christians—a way of life that is often at odds with what comes “naturally” to us. Baptism is about God’s call to us to see that our true life, our true joy resides in a conscious intentional loving relationship with the image of God seen in human form in Jesus Christ. In baptism we are brought into this way of life as celebrated in the community of the church.
Why should I be baptized?
As Christians, we believe that we can only be fully human if we live in relationship with God and live in community with other people of faith. The forces that move us away from being truly human are not just social and psychological, but spiritual as well. In baptism, we incorporate individuals into the community of faith and promise to assist each person, young and old, to know God and to love God.
At what age should I be baptized?
You are ready to be baptized when you are ready to make the promises and vows in the baptismal service. You are ready to be baptized when you are committed to living your life in the context of the faith community of the Holy Spirit.
Where should I be baptized?
Baptism takes place in the church when the church family is present—at the main Sunday worship service. It is desirable that you be baptized in the parish community in which you have some likelihood of continued association. The congregation’s vows in the service make no sense if the baptism is done privately or if you live elsewhere or if you do not attend church.
On what date should I be baptized?
The Episcopal Church seeks to bring baptism into a significant relation to the church year, associating it with the great events in the redemptive story. As such, the preferred days for baptism are the Easter Vigil, the Day of Pentecost, All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (the First Sunday after Epiphany). However, baptism may also be appropriately celebrated within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast. The baptism of a person is an important occasion for the members of the whole congregation to renew their baptismal vows. The focus of the liturgy is on the ministry of all who are baptized into Christ, including the candidate for baptism.
What is the role of Sponsors/Godparents?
People who are being baptized usually select two or more sponsors. In the service, the sponsors publicly proclaim their Christian faith and promise to be an example of Christian living. Sponsors are close friends of relatives who:
- Will maintain a special relationship with you;
- Are baptized Christians (not necessarily Episcopalians);
- Are active members of a faith community;
- Will help you to continue in the Christian life and faith.
When may I receive Communion?
People of all ages are full members of the community by virtue of their baptism and welcome to receive communion.
What do I need to know and do before I am baptized at Church of the Holy Spirit?
Baptism is the initiation of a person into a Christian life and also the start of a relationship with the community of the Church as experienced through participation in the life of a particular congregation. We ask you to do the following before being baptized:
- Worship with the congregation for at least six months;
- Read the materials provided by the priest that discuss what it means to be a Christian;
- Participate in an ongoing Christian Education program at COHS;
- Meet with the Rector as requested to prepare for Baptism;
You will meet with the Rector one or more times before the baptism to discuss the affirmations and promises you will make during the service. This is an opportunity for all participants to talk about their own Christian faith and practice and how they can best fulfill and support one another in their roles. During these discussions, we will discern that:
- Baptism is:
o Public and corporate;
o The primary rite of initiation into the community of faith, the Body of Christ and the household of God;
o The beginning of a new way of life in Jesus Christ.
- Baptism is not:
o An ecclesiastical life insurance policy;
o A perfunctory rite of passage.
What happens in the Baptismal Service?
All candidates for Baptism sit with their families and sponsors during the first part of the service. Immediately following the sermon, the baptismal party assembles in view of the congregation. The service includes:
- Presentation of the Candidate(s). The sponsors, speaking as individuals, name (first and middle names) and present the candidate, saying, “I present N.N. to receive the Sacrament of Baptism,”
- Examination of the Sponsors. Speaking as individuals, the sponsors publicly proclaim their Christian faith and promise to assist the candidate in the Christian faith and life.
- Baptismal Covenant. The entire congregation renews its own baptismal vows.
- Prayers for the Candidate(s). These are led by a layperson.
- Thanksgiving Over the Water. The priest blesses the water and sprinkles the congregation as a reminder of each person’s baptism.
- The Baptism. The candidate stands or kneels in the bottom part of the font and is baptized by the priest in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- The Chrismation. The candidate is sealed by the Holy Spirit using oil blessed by the Bishop, which reminds us that we are baptized into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, not just Church of the Holy Spirit. One is baptized a Christian, not an Episcopalian (or a Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.).
- Welcome. The whole congregation welcomes the newly Baptized and the peace of Christ is exchanged.
- The Eucharist. The congregation, including the newly baptized, share in the sacramental meal which Christ has given us. The bread and wine are the food which sustains us on our early journey until we share in the heavenly banquet with the risen Christ.
Greeting the Baptized. At the conclusion of the service, the newly baptized are asked to stand with the clergy at the entrance. This provides an opportunity for the congregation to greet personally the newest member of Christ’s Body.