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Arrange a Baptism

You want to have your child baptized. What a wonderful time in the life of your family.

One of the first steps in planning a baptism will be to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to make an appointment to visit and talk with the Senior Pastor of our church. 
 
Below is some important information and answer to frequently asked questions:
 

Baptism is a Sacrament

 
Baptism is not simply a festive ceremony in which families gather to celebrate their newest member. It is much more!
 
Baptism is a Sacrament in which the family reaffirms their faith in Christ as Savior, and as Christians declare their desire and intention to raise their child in the Christian faith.
 
The term “sacrament” implies that something sacred is happening. Different Christian denominations will differ over what they recognize as sacraments. Some accept as many as seven different sacraments while others have none. The Presbyterian Church (USA) recognizes two sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
 
We understand these two actions to be sacraments, “instituted by God and commended by Christ. Sacraments are signs of the real presence and power of Christ in the Church, symbols of God's action. Through the Sacraments, God seals believers in redemption, renews their identity as the people of God, and marks them for service." (Book of Order W-1.3033.2)
 

What Does the Act of Baptism Mean to Us?


Our church’s Book of Order defines our policies and practices. It tells us, "Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God's redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God's gift of grace and also God's summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for ministry to the world." (Book of Order W-2.3006)
 
When you present your child for Baptism, your child will become a member of the congregation. We have various categories of membership, and a Baptized Member of a particular church is a person who has received the Sacrament of Baptism but who has not yet made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As such, your child will be considered a Christian and a member of our church family. Your child will be entitled to the pastoral care, instruction of the church, and participation in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
 

Do the Parents Have to be Members of the Church?

 
The nature of Baptism and the questions that are being asked require that at least one of those acting as parent or guardian be a Christian. Baptism, after all, is a declaration of the parent’s Christian faith and an affirmation of the intention to raise the child as a Christian believer. If you do not affirm the Christian faith, there would be no reason for you to desire your child to be Baptized.
 
The Book of Order of our church states “Confessing members of other Christian churches may participate in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and may present children for baptism. (Book of Order, G-5.0301c). However, it is rarely appropriate for non-members of a congregation to present a child for Baptism. While the rules of our church permit such baptisms, it also says, “When a child is being presented for Baptism, ordinarily the parent(s) or one(s) rightly exercising parental responsibility shall be an active member of the congregation.”
 
In some cases, the parents may join our church at the time of their child’s baptism. We encourage everyone to attend our new member classes, or inquirer’s classes, which are held several times each year. These classes are an excellent way for newcomers to get to know our congregation, as well as our faith. If it is not possible for you to attend these classes, you may meet with the Session and request to join at the time of your child’s baptism.
 

What Happens at the Baptism Service?

 
One of the ministers will read a statement about Baptism based on Matthew 28:18-20, “Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
The pastor will continue to comment about the gift of baptism, perhaps sharing other verses of Scripture, and saying words similar to these: “Obeying the word of our Lord Jesus, and confident of his promises, we baptize those whom God has called. In baptism God claims us, and seals us to show that we belong to God. God frees us from sin and death, uniting us with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. By water and the Holy Spirit, we are made members of the church, the body of Christ, and joined to Christ's ministry of love, peace, and justice. Let us remember with joy our own baptism, as we celebrate this sacrament.”
 
An elder of our church will then say that he or she is presenting, on behalf of the Session, the child for baptism.
 
At that time, you will come from your pew, bringing your child, and will stand at the Baptism Font. Any family members or sponsors who are to stand with you will come up with you. Remember to stand in such a way that your backs are not to the congregation.
 
One of the pastors will ask the parents these questions:
1. What is the name of your child?
2. Do you desire that your child be baptized?
3. Relying on God's grace, do you promise to live the Christian faith, and to teach that faith to your child?
 
One of the pastors will then ask the sponsors standing with you, if there are any, "Do you promise, through prayer and example, to support and encourage this child to be a faithful Christian?”
 
A similar question is then asked of the congregation: “Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture this child by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging this child to know and follow Christ and to be a faithful member of His church?”
 
A pastor will then ask the parents four questions. There are many questions for membership in the Presbyterian Church. The ones we use represent some of the oldest membership questions in the Christian faith. They reflect that Baptism is a turning away from something (evil) and a turning toward someone (Christ).
 
1. Do you renounce all evil, and powers in the world which defy God's righteousness and love?
2. Do you renounce the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God?
3. Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior?
4. Will you be Christ's faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love, to your life's end?
 
These questions for Baptism are consistent with the form we ask of new members joining our church and with the questions asked at Confirmation.
 
Since witnessing a Baptism also becomes an opportunity for one to spiritually renew one’s own Baptism, we invite the congregation at this time to proclaim our common faith, using the words of the Apostles’ Creed.
 
Following the Creed, a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing is said over the Baptism waters. The minister will then take the child and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians baptize by immersion, sprinkling or pouring. For children, however, immersion is not practiced.
 
Following the act of Baptism, the minister will informally present the child to the congregation and introduce the child as the newest member of our church.
 

Can We Use Our Family Traditions During the Service?

 
We encourage the use of traditions that are appropriate and consistent with our church’s traditions and practices. Many families will have a family baptismal bowl, or will want to purchase their own bowl to use as a Confirmation gift when the child professes his or her own faith. Baptismal gowns that have been used for generations make a wonderful addition to the service. If you have any family or cultural tradition that you would like to use in the service, you will want to speak with the pastor. If it is incorporated into the Baptism service, an explanation will be included in the Sunday’s bulletin on the day of the service.
 

Do We Have Godparents in the Presbyterian Church? 

 
The role of the Godparents is usually referred to as Sponsors in the Presbyterian Church. Their role is to provide special assistance and encouragement to the child and the family in their spiritual journey. You may or may not wish to invite people to serve as Sponsors for your child.
 
Godparents or sponsors…Must be Christian, but do not necessarily have to be Presbyterian. Need to be present at the baptism and will stand with the family during the Sacrament. Will be asked a question by the pastor: “Will you uphold this family in the Christian nurture of this child?” Should understand that he or she is making a commitment to pray daily for this child for many years to come. Needs to take a special interest in the child, sharing graduations, holidays and remembering birthdays.
 
 

Can We Have the Child Baptized More Than Once?


"Baptism is received only once. There are many times in worship, however, when believers acknowledge the grace of God continually at work. As they participate in the celebration of another's Baptism, as they experience the sustaining nurture of the Lord's Supper, and as they reaffirm the commitments made at Baptism, they confess their ongoing need of God's grace and pledge anew their obedience to God's covenant in Christ." (Book of Order W-2.3009)

"As there is one body, there is one Baptism. (Eph. 4:4-6) The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes all Baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit administered by other Christian churches." (Book of Order W-2.3010)


Can We Have a Private Baptism?


Baptism is almost always administered as part of a worship service. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Only in the rarest cases is Baptism practiced apart from this place and time of public worship, such as in a hospital.


What do We do to Arrange for the Baptism?


Make an appointment with the pastor. After you have been fully informed about the meaning and process of this Sacrament, the Session will consider the request to approve the schedule of your child’s baptism. There are times when the Pastor will suggest that you meet with the Session, especially if there are unusual situations to consider.

The Session is the governing body of our church and has authority over the scheduling of all Sacraments. They meet on the third Tuesday of most months. You will need to plan for your child’s baptism with the Session’s ability to meet and approve your request.
 
 
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