Worship > Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, Funerals > Baptisms
Baptisms at Christ Church
How wonderful that you are thinking about having your child baptized here at Christ Church Parish! In order to acquaint you with our practices surrounding the Sacrament of Holy Baptism we have prepared this information, and we hope that it will answer many of your questions. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have more questions or if you would like to schedule the Baptism. We joyously acclaim this momentous step in the life of a newly born Christian: “We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.”
What is Holy Baptism?
According to the Book of Common Prayer, “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.” In our faith tradition it is often babies who are baptized, but in truth, Baptism is available for people of all ages who seek to join the Body of Christ. Baptism is a one-time sacrament, effective for a lifetime and irrevocable. Because it is full initiation into Christ’s Body, anyone (of any age) who has received Holy Baptism is eligible also to receive Communion and to partake fully of all the other sacramental rites of the Church.
When do we celebrate baptism?
Holy Baptism is appropriately administered within a Sunday Eucharist to underscore the importance of the community of faith as a lifelong support to the ones being baptized, and to their families. The Episcopal Church prefers to celebrate Baptisms on four major feast days of the liturgical year. These are the Sunday following All Saints’ Day, the Baptism of Our Lord (the Sunday after the Epiphany), the Easter Vigil, and the day of Pentecost. However, due to pastoral needs we sometimes do celebrate Holy Baptism on Sundays other than these four days. We usually celebrate Holy Baptism at our 10:00 Eucharist during the school year, or our 9:00 Eucharist in the summer.
Who will we baptize here?
Those persons who are to be baptized are expected to come from families who attend worship regularly at this church or who are willing to commit to do so. Because Holy Baptism is full initiation into the Church, it is mandatory that those to be baptized actually continue to participate in the life of the Church. Without our full complement of members our life together is impoverished. We ask that parents of infants think strongly about this commitment before they seek to have their children baptized. If you do not regularly attend our church, you will need to meet with the Rector to discuss these issues before we can agree to proceed with the Baptism.
Why do we baptize babies before they have reached an age of understanding?
The Church follows the practice of the ancient Christians who incorporated entire households by baptism into the Body of Christ. When we baptize an infant or very young child it is especially important that the parents of the child understand their Christian duty to raise their children within the household of God. The parents and Godparents must agree to the commitments contained in the Baptismal liturgy. It is very important that Godparents be selected for the child who are committed to being a part of their religious upbringing and who themselves are grounded in Christ.
What’s the Church’s teaching about what happens to babies if they die unbaptized?
Because we know that God hates nothing that God has made, we firmly hold to the belief that if babies die unbaptized they are not punished in any way; in fact in their innocence they enjoy undiminished peace in the loving presence of God. The Church no longer teaches that infants must be baptized as a matter of course. And that is why it’s perfectly acceptable to wait until babies are past the newborn stage to baptize them.
What about Godparents?
The Church requires that there be one or more people as Godparents or sponsors for each person being baptized. Godparents must be baptized Christians themselves (but need not be Episcopalians). Because their role is so significant we urge parents to choose persons for Godparents who take their commitments to Christ very seriously and who themselves are involved in a community of faith.
How do we prepare for Holy Baptism?
When an infant or young child is to be baptized it is mandatory that parents and Godparents be educated about their responsibilities and that they understand the scope of their commitments. The rector will meet with the family and Godparents prior to the baptism in order that this may occur. At the time of our meeting we will touch upon the background and underpinnings of Holy Baptism, the responsibilities of parents and Godparents, and the shape of the service itself.
When an older child or adult will be baptized, he or she will be prepared for this great step by attending church school or adult education offerings as well as by meeting with the clergy. Godparents or sponsors also play an important role for the older person being baptized: they are representatives of the Body of Christ and are intended to remain a close link between the new Christian and the Church.
How do we begin the process?
Please speak with the rector. Lots of lead-time is good! For infants and children, the parents of the child (not the grandparents) must speak with the clergy.
Is there a charge for having a person baptized at Christ Church Parish?
No, there is no charge for Baptisms. However many families will choose to make a contribution to the church as a way of commemorating the occasion. Such contributions are used to help others in need.
Are there any other things that are good to be aware of ahead of time?
We ask that no one from the congregation (or baptismal family) use flash photography at any time during any service. It is simply too disruptive. The rector will be very happy to pose for photos with the baptismal family around the font after the service has concluded.
We also enjoy inviting any children from the congregation to come forward and sit near the font so that they may see the Baptism a little better.