Baptism: Entrance into the Church
In the Episcopal Church, we believe that Baptism is the “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the Church.” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 298) In other words, Baptism is the sacrament that makes one a member of the Christian Church.
A “sacrament” is defined by our Catechism as an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.” In baptism, the inward and spiritual grace imparted is God’s adoption of us as his children, and making us members of Christ’s Body, the Church. Since this is God’s act of grace that is not dependent on any action on our part – like a confession of faith or even the conduct of life – baptism is indissoluble and never repeated.
The “outward and visible signs” of baptism are water and oil. The person being baptized can be totally immersed in water, dunked in water, or have water poured or sprinkled over the head (the most common method, especially with young children). For us, the method is insignificant, but water is indispensable. One cannot be legitimately baptized without it.
When can baptisms occur?
Baptism should take place on Sunday mornings or other feast days and within the context of Holy Eucharist, the primary worship service of the Church. This affords every member of the local church to renew their own Baptismal Covenant along with the person being baptized. So, except for extraordinary circumstances, “private” baptisms are not done at Saint David’s.
Although a Baptism may be performed at any time of the year, there are some feast days on which it is especially appropriate. The most traditional time for baptism, going back to the first centuries of Christianity, is during the Easter season, particularly at the Easter Vigil service. Other appropriate days throughout the year are: the day of Pentecost, which comes fifty days after Easter Day and so in late May or early June; All Saints’ Sunday, the first Sunday in November; and the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, the first Sunday after January 6th.
What about Godparents?
Each candidate for baptism is to be presented and sponsored by one or more baptized persons. In the case of infants or younger children, these sponsors, frequently called “godparents”, should be individuals who will be present throughout the child’s growing years and attentive, along with the parents, to the child’s growth “in the knowledge and love of the Lord.” Since this education is best done through regular worship and since they are making the Baptismal Vows on behalf of the child, it is very important that parents and, when possible, godparents to be regular communicants of the local parish. The number and gender of godparents is not specified.
For more information…
Baptismal instruction for parents and, when possible, godparents/sponsors is given by the clergy before the date of baptism. So, if you would like to have your child baptized, contact the church office at 985-3073, well before your preferred time of baptism in order to make arrangements.