HOLY BAPTISM AT ST. PETER’S
What is Baptism? We cross the water to come to Jesus Christ. Baptism is the rite of passage through which we connect into union with Jesus, and what’s his becomes ours. We get what he has: standing with God, a place in the community, wholeness, holiness, everlasting purpose and destiny.
It is a sacramental action that creates a relationship with Jesus Christ and makes us fully part of his people, the Church around the world. It is initiation into our local congregation, and anointing to serve God in the world. Through baptism at St Peter’s also means becoming part of the worldwide Anglican communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the USA is a part.
Who gets baptized? We offer baptism for adults who have come to faith in Jesus, and for children of believing parents. Baptism for adults is an act of repentance and trust in which a person turns from their old way of life and embraces Jesus and the new life he leads us into. Baptism for infants and children is an act of trust and commitment on the part of the parents who bring their child to Jesus and into the community of Christians. Parents pledge to nurture their child in the Christian faith so they’ll be able to make that choice for themselves as adults in the rite of Confirmation.
Why baptize infants? Infants are baptized so they can share citizenship in God’s people and be part of the covenant as the children born in Israel were. Infant baptism has been the universal practice of the Church throughout most of its history.
What is required of us at baptism? We renounce Satan and all forms of evil both in the world and in our own lives. We accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and promise to trust and obey him.
When do you baptize? We always celebrate Baptisms during the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, typically on the high feast days of the Church:
- Baptism of the Lord – early January
- The Great Vigil of Easter – March/April.
- Pentecost Sunday – late May/early June
- A summer celebration—dates vary
- All Saints Sunday – early November
How do we prepare for Baptism? All parents of the children presented for Baptism take part in a preparation process that includes becoming a Member of our congregation and participating in a class with the Rector in the month preceding the baptism. Adult candidates for baptism participate in the Exploring Your Faith class and are baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter.
AN ACT OF COMMITMENT
Baptism is a three-way commitment between God, the person being baptized and the congregation.
In Baptism God promises to unite us with Jesus Christ and to give us all that Jesus is and has and does. He promises to forgive us and raise us to new life and sustain us by his loving power through the dark parts of life. He promises to change us, to help us become the kind of people who love and serve him and to make a better world. He promises joy and peace and a sense of wonder at the beauty of the world he has made. He promises a community of people who will support and nurture us.
A Person’s Commitment
We respond to God’s loving initiative by committing ourselves to him. We say “yes” and we promise to live in relationship with God, loving, trusting and obeying him. In practical terms this means learning to pray, to live and work well with others, to give generously in God’s service and to labor to make God’s world as good as he intends it to be. In Baptism we make a binding covenant with God in which we pledge to love and serve God by being and doing these things.
The Parent’s Commitment
Of course infants and small children are not able to make such promises, so the parents and godparents promise for them. They pledge to “be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian Faith and Life” ... “to help this child grow into the full stature of Christ.”
The parents and godparents serve as mentors in the faith, raising Christian kids who will, when the time of Confirmation comes, be able to make their own mature commitment to Jesus Christ. To nurture a growing faith in their children, parents and godparents must nurture their own faith so they can actively lead their children “by word and example” on the path of loving and serving God.
The Christian faith is a learned experience. Our homes need to be places where faith is shared and lived. Parents need to be willing to talk about God and their own faith experiences. We’ll help you grow at St Peter’s so you can gain the skills to spiritually lead and nurture your children.
The Godparent’s Commitment
A second commitment parents make is selecting godparents. Being a godparent is not an honorary role. They should be able to take a present, active, long-term role in the life of their godchild. The people you choose as godparents should first and foremost be persons of faith themselves. Try to select active and instructed members of the Church because they will be making vows as God parents that only a committed believer can in good conscience make. It would be great if they could send us a letter of reference from their pastor.
Godparents make the same commitment as the parents to nurture the child in the Christian faith.
The Congregation’s Commitment
The congregation also makes a commitment, as the parents, to support the newly baptized in their life in Christ. Based on the Parent’s commitment we trust that the child will be raised within our community, participating in worship, Sunday School, youth group etc. That gives the people of St Peter’s the opportunity to make good on their promise to “do all in our in power to support this child” in their journey with Jesus. We invite families who are not yet members of this congregation to join us before the Baptism to learn to love Jesus, be cared for in our community, imbibe our values and mission for life.