Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. The Book of Common Prayer
Holy Baptism, along with the Holy Eucharist, is one of the primary sacraments of the Church. As a sacrament it is a means of grace through which we receive the forgiveness of sins, a new life of grace, an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage necessary to persevere in the Christian life, the spirit to know and love God, and a profound sense of joy and wonder.
Baptism, however, is not simply an individual experience of salvation. Through the sacrament of Holy Baptism God adopts us as his children. This divine action makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God. The celebration of Holy Baptism, then, is a celebration of, by and for the Christian community. As we renew together our baptismal vows and gather before the font and the altar, we recognize that we are bound together by our common faith in Jesus Christ.
At Christ Church we take seriously the call of God to live the Christian life as a community of faith.
For those who seek baptism, we invite you to spend several months with us, to discern if we are the community of faith for you. During that time of seeking, we invite you to talk with the Rector and clergy about the possibility of baptism for you or your children. We hope and pray that you will join us and that you will experience God’s wondrous grace and love through this family of God.
Forming a community takes time. For this reason it is important that those who come to the font be members of the parish who commit themselves to undertake the solemn vows of Holy Baptism. That is why we invite those new to the parish to spend time with us before seeking Baptism.
BAPTISMS IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Book of Common Prayer provides the following guidelines for Baptisms in the Episcopal Church:
- Holy Baptism is appropriately administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast. Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday following, and on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
- Each candidate for Holy Baptism is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons
- Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants, commonly called godparents, present their candidates, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of their candidates.
- It is fitting that parents be included among the godparents of their own children. Parents and godparents are to be instructed in the meaning of Baptism, in their duties to help the new Christians grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of his Church.
BAPTISMS AT CHRIST CHURCH
Holy Baptism is complete initiation into the Christian community; it is a public commitment to a life of worship, fellowship, formation and action. Since both the candidate and the congregation have a responsibility to one another, families interested in Baptism are encouraged to be involved in the life and fellowship of the community of faith.
Following are the steps to take toward participating in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism:
STEP ONE: CONTACTING THE RECTOR
- The first step is to call the Rector. He will discuss with the candidate or the candidate’s parents the best time available for Holy Baptism. For those new to the parish this discussion will include ways of becoming more fully incorporated into the parish family.
- Selecting the date for Baptism is a very important decision. It involves not only liturgical preparation but family preparation. Many families invite out-of-town guests and need to know the date well in advance. Following the guidelines of The Book of Common Prayer, we celebrate Holy Baptism on the major baptismal feasts of the Church: Baptism of Our Lord, the Great Vigil of Easter, Easter Day, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day (or the Sunday following). In consultation with the Rector, you may choose which of these feasts is best for you. One other Sunday during the summer months may also be an option.
- In a medical emergency, Holy Baptism may be administered immediately. Please call any of the clergy at any time.
STEP TWO: INCORPORATION
- Following this discussion with the Rector, the second step is to become more fully incorporated into the life of the parish. Our hope is that those seeking Baptism will live fully into the community. This includes worshipping regularly, participating in educational and fellowship opportunities, and making a financial commitment to the parish.
- This time frame allows a nurturing system to develop. One has time to determine whether or not to become an active part of this parish; the parish has the opportunity to get to know you and to incorporate you into the life of this community.
STEP THREE: SELECTING SPONSORS
- Sponsors are those persons who accept the responsibility for helping the new Christian grow in the knowledge and love of God. They also assist him or her in learning and accepting the responsibilities of Christian discipleship.
- Both parents and godparents are sponsors; we suggest a minimum of two godparents in addition to the parents. While parents are active members of the parish, godparents should be members in good standing with another Christian congregation.
STEP FOUR: PREPARATION AND INSTRUCTION
- Instruction is a vital part of baptismal preparation. All parents and sponsors, or the candidate if an adult, are invited to a pre-baptismal session. This 90 minute session is normally held the Saturday morning prior to the date of the Baptism. This instruction is only part of a life-long journey of Christian formation. Our hope and invitation for all participants, both candidates, parents and sponsors, is to continue your spiritual growth through the various education programs of the parish.
STEP FIVE: THE LITURGY
- Since Holy Baptism is the rite of Christian initiation into the Church, it is critically important that the Sacrament be celebrated with the congregation present. This practice allows the newly baptized to be included in the parish family, it charges the congregation to support the candidates in their life in Christ; and it offers each parishioner the opportunity to renew his or her baptismal vows. Special seating for parents, godparents and family guests is reserved near the baptismal font.
- Photography: Remembering that Holy Baptism is a service of worship of Almighty God, we ask that no photographs be taken during the liturgy itself. Photographs may be taken before and after the liturgy if you desire.
- Fees: There are no fees for Holy Baptism in this parish.
STEP SIX: LIVING OUR BAPTISM IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
No matter the age of the candidate Holy Baptism is the beginning of the Christian life. Christ Church offers many opportunities for deepening our relationship with Christ.