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About Baptism (Christian Initiation)

What is Baptism?
Holy Baptism is the initial sacrament by which God adopts us as God’s children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God.

When are Baptisms held? The Church has set aside five occasions for the sacrament of Holy Baptism. These are: 
  • The Great Vigil of Easter (Evening before Easter - in the Spring), 
  • The Feast of Pentecost (The Sunday that occurs 50 days after Easter - late Spring), 
  • All Saints’ Day (November 1st - or the Sunday that follows All Saints’ Day), 
  • The Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the Sunday after January 6th). 
Since the bishop is the chief sacramental official, it is also appropriate to have baptisms on the occasion of the Bishop’s Annual Visit (this varies from year to year). It is requested that baptisms be reserved for these occasions. Baptisms may take place at other times during the year at the pastoral discretion of the priest.

Who may be Baptized? Anyone with a personal faith in Jesus Christ may be baptized, as well as any young child or infant with a parent/sponsor willing to make vows of faith on behalf of the child.

What is involved in Holy Baptism? Holy Baptism is accomplished through the making of solemn vows followed by the symbolic purification through water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Any Christian may baptize another in an emergency situation, but normally the service of Holy Baptism is celebrated by a priest or a bishop in the context of a service of Holy Eucharist.

What is a Sponsor? “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 god-parents, make promises in their own names, and also make vows on behalf of their candidates.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 298) 

Who may be a Sponsor? Any Baptized Christian may sponsor a candidate. It is preferred that at least one sponsor be a baptized member of St. James. In the case of children it is appropriate for the parents to be among the sponsors. In the case of adults, it is appropriate for a spouse to be among the sponsors. There is no maximum or minimum number of sponsors. (Traditionally, sponsors range from at least 1 to 4). 

Do I have to be “re-baptized” to join the Episcopal Church? No. Baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is full membership into the Body of Christ (the Christian faith) - not a particular denomination. It cannot be, and should not be repeated. There are times, however, when a public affirmation of faith is appropriate, depending on the circumstances. Three rites are provided for in the Book of Common Prayer. These are: Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. They are celebrated during a Bishop’s visit to the parish or regionally. 

What if I was Baptized in another church or as an infant? If you were baptized in another church into the Christian faith, we welcome you! If you wish to officially have your baptism recognized by this church, please get your baptismal information (place/date) to the church office. If you were baptized as an infant, or in another denomination, it is expected that you be Confirmed or Received. Please see the pamphlet “About Confirmation.” 

What is the fee for Baptism? The administration of the Sacrament of Baptism is a part of the pastoral ministry of the parish. No fee for the services of the clergy or for the use of the church is expected. We expect that you will regularly participate in the life of the parish, honor your baptismal vows, and give for the spreading of the Gospel and building up of God’s Kingdom. 

How do I arrange for a Baptism? Please fill out the enclosed Application. In the case of infants and young children, parents should contact the priest. In the case of adults and older children, the candidate should contact the priest directly. The priest is required to meet with the parents or candidate to discuss the meaning of the service, help choose sponsors, and set the date for the service. 

What if I am unsure whether or not I have been baptized? The Book of Common Prayer provides for this situation with a service for “Conditional Baptism.” See The Book of Common Prayer, page 313. 

Other questions? Please feel free to ask the priest about specific questions regarding Holy Baptism and other aspects of the Episcopal Church. 

“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 298). 

In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. 

The Rite of Holy Baptism can be found on pp. 297-308 of the Book of Common Prayer 1979.
Ken Saunders,
Jun 13, 2018, 1:48 PM
Ken Saunders,
Jun 13, 2018, 1:48 PM