St. David's United Church is pleased that you have requested baptism for yourself and/or your child. It is our hope and prayer that baptism will mark the a wonderful step on your journey(s) of faith. The Christian Church takes baptism seriously and the commitments made during baptism should not be taken lightly.
Our church policy requires that adults who request baptism and adults who request baptism for their children, participate in pre-baptismal conversation and learning. We want to ensure that you know the meanings of baptism in the Christian faith as well as understand the commitments are involved. The minister will be meeting with you prior to baptism to discuss the contents of this pamphlet and to answer any questions which you may have.
BAPTISM IS A BEGINNING
When a child is baptized, their family and we as a church celebrate their being a Child of God, the first step in their faith journey and the relationships they will have with God, their family and their faith community. At a child baptism the parents/guardians make the commitments for the child. They promise to encourage the faith journey of the child, as well as their own. When the child grows up they take responsibility for their own faith and are encouraged to re-affirm the baptismal vows by being confirmed as an adult member of the church.
When an older teen or adult is baptized, we are celebrating their being a Child of God, a new step in their faith journey and the relationships they have with God, their family and their faith community. They commit to taking responsibility for their own faith along with receiving the support of their family community. For all seeking baptism, please know that your faith must be taken care of and maintained if it is to remain healthy. One’s faith needs a community to add wisdom, experience and diversity to their learning about God. You will also be asked to continue your learning, worship and prayer life both alone and in community.
BAPTISM IS UNIVERSAL
All those baptized are baptized into the Holy Catholic Church. The word Catholic (when capitalized) means universal, recognized by all mainline Christian denominations, protestant and catholic. Thus we are only baptized once into the Holy Catholic Church and in doing so become a member of Christ's one universal Church.
All children are baptized into this universal body as our way to celebrate they are gifts from God.
Older teens and adults are also always welcome, if not previously baptized, to be baptized, wherein they themselves make the affirmations of faith and promises, and thus become a member of Christ's one universal Church.
WHAT BAPTISM IS
Through this sacrament, we affirm the love that God already has for the individual being baptized. The ceremony is our response to God's love for the child. It is a reminder and a sign of that love. Water is used in baptism as a symbol of cleansing and awakening. It is a sign of nourishment and life. Water symbolizes that God washes away anything that could separate us from God.
For children, the parents and the church respond on behalf of the child to God's preexisting and eternal love. The parents promise to bring their child up in the Christian faith. The church promises to help them. We do this as we follow Jesus who said, "Let the little children come to me." (Matthew 19:14). Jesus often made time for little children and spoke of how the kingdom of heaven belongs to children. Baptism is the formal beginning of a child's faith journey. It is a ceremony that welcomes the child's entry into the family of God. The child becomes a member of the whole Christian church.
For older teens and adults, baptisms allows them to respond to God's preexisting and eternal love. The individual promises to continue living out a Christian faith. The church promises to help them. Baptism is a powerful step in one’s faith journey into the Christian church.
CONFIRMATION Older teens and adults, ask to be “confirmed” into membership in the same ritual. In this addition, they commit to full membership in their particular church and its denomination (The United Church of Canada, here at St. David’s). This membership is generally transferable and so while baptism occurs once in a lifetime, confirmation (called an affirmation of faith) can occur when one moves or changes church. Each church offers instruction and preparation for youth and adults who desire confirmation, in additiona to their preparation for baptism.
THE CHURCH'S COMMITMENT The members of the church stand before God and each other, promising to help the parents by providing a Christian environment for the raising of their children. This is why we hope your own baptism, or your child’s, will take place in the same community where you worship and serve regularly.
THE SERVICE ITSELF Baptisms usually take place during the regular Sunday morning service (10:30am). This is because it is a sacrament and thus take place in the midst of God’s wonderful love, your family/support circle and a community of faith!
When a child is baptized, a member of Worship committee will introduce the child to the congregation. The promises will be said by the parents/guardians and any other adults supporting the child’s faith life. The child is then given to the minister who puts water on the baby's head and baptizes the baby in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The minister welcomes the baby to the church family and returns the baby to the parents.
When an older child, youth or adult is baptized, a member of Worship committee will introduce the individual to the congregation and the individual will be asked to affirm their faith. The minister will put water on the baby's head and baptizes the you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (the minister may ask you to kneel). The minister welcomes you into the church family. Those baptized or their parents/guardians are given a baptismal candle which they are encouraged to light on the anniversaries of the baptism and reflect on the meaning of the baptism. They also receive a certificate of baptism. You are welcome to have godparents or sponsors included in the ceremony, although it is not required. This is primarily an honourary role and has nothing to do with legal guardianship. Godparents may be people who will play a role in the religious and spiritual growth of the child. In that way, godparents have a role that is similar to the church: they are to assist and support the parents in the raising of children in a Christian environment.
THE PARENT'S COMMITMENT
When a child is baptized, their parent(s) stand before God and the church to re-commit themselves to Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus' Church. They promise to continue to live the Christian life, to worship in church regularly and to walk with God. Parents/guardians promise to use their own faith in the building of a Christian home wherein the church is a part of family life and all ages are nurtured in the faith. We ask that parents/guardians explore their own faith seriouly as part of having their children baptized. Use the promises you will make as a guide, and ask your minister if you have any questions. The parents will be asked to respond to these questions, take from The United Church of Canada’s New Creed:
· Do you profess your own faith in God, source of love; in Jesus Christ, love incarnate and in the Holy Spirit, love’s power?
· Will you proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, in your words and actions?
· Will you follow in the way of Jesus Christ, resisting oppression and evil, seeking justice and witnessing to God’s love for all creation?
· Will you join with brothers and sisters in the church to share in the life, work and ministry of Jesus Christ?
· Will you share your faith with your child, growing with him or her faith, hope andlove; and will you encourage him or her byyour words and actions?
· Will you encourage your child to renew these baptismal vows through confirmation when he or she is ready?