Baptism Information

“Then Jesus came to them and said…’go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’” -Matthew 28:18-19

Baptism was given to us by Jesus as a mark of His people. Baptism was used as a religious act by various religions and people before Jesus, including John the Baptist. Baptism had different meanings to these groups, but in general it symbolized spiritual cleansing. Christian baptism, given by Jesus—and done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—has several meanings. It represents: God’s faithfulness, the washing away of sin, repentance, spiritual death and rebirth, adoption into God’s covenant family (the church), the receiving of God’s Spirit in our lives and the claim of God’s Spirit upon our lives.

Different Christian traditions emphasize different aspects of these meanings. That’s why there are so many diverse beliefs about and practices of baptism. Within the Presbyterian tradition, we heavily stress that baptism is the mark of God’s covenant family (the church). Covenant means “promise.” And, we are assured that we are a part of God’s people by His faithful promise to love us, forgive us and save us. Just as circumcision was the mark of, Israel, God’s old covenant people (talked about in the Old Testament), so baptism is the sign of God’s new covenant people, the church (described in the New Testament).

“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household….then immediately he and all his household were baptized.’” -Acts 16:31,33

Any adult who confesses faith in Christ and turns from his or her sin should be baptized, along with any children under his or her care.
Adults: Describes people who are old enough to make personal, informed decisions about their belief in Christ and their relationship with him. The term includes teenagers.

Children: Faith is a family affair, whether we are talking about God’s spiritual family (the church) or our biological families. Faith is not inherited from either of these families, but it is transmitted by them. In other words, we can’t say we are Christians just because our parents were or because we are a member of a church. Even if our parents are Christians or our name is on the membership roll of a church, there will come a point in our lives when we must take responsibility for our own spiritual choices and respond to God’s call to follow him. Still, raising children in the faith is the responsibility of parents or guardians and the church. Thus, children are also baptized.

The baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. The baptism of adults and teenagers witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of grace calls for a response of faithfulness.

Baptism is done in our congregation with water that is common to our location and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three methods of baptism are available, based upon the choice of the baptismal candidate:
Sprinkling: Is the common practice in our tradition. We have a baptismal font in our sanctuary and perform baptisms by sprinkling during Sunday morning worship services. This form of baptism uses the least amount of water. Sprinkling is convenient for infants and for adults who do not want to change clothes. But, the limited amount of water does not symbolize God’s abundant grace poured out liberally for us as effectively as the other two modes of baptism.
Pouring: Is like sprinkling, but rather than the pastor using his hands to apply the water, he or she uses a pitcher. This form of baptism is also administered during regular Sunday morning worship services.
Immersion: Is probably the method of baptism that was used most often by Jesus’ early followers. It requires a person’s entire body to be submerged beneath water. We do not have a baptismal tank in our sanctuary. So, conducting this type of baptism requires us to secure another location, such as another church or private pool, for the baptism. For this reason, baptism by immersion is not done during our Sunday morning worship. However, it is still a public event of worship where the people of God are invited to gather.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
-Ephesians 2:8-9

Baptism is the sign and seal of God’s grace and our response to that grace. In baptism, a person is marked as belonging to Christ. But, baptism does not “save” a person. A person is saved by the free and gracious gift of God, not by any work done by or for a person—including baptism.
Adults undergo baptism, or parents and guardians present their children for baptism, as an act of obedience to the Lord. It is an outward sign of the inward grace that God has worked in their own lives or that they trust he will work in the lives of their children.

Recognition of Baptisms from other Churches & Rebaptism: The symbolism and grace of baptism are not dependent upon specific physical formulas of how the water is applied or words are said. Therefore, we recognize as valid the baptisms of all other Christian churches. This means if you have ever been baptized at any point in your life, you do not have to be rebaptized before joining our church. We also do not rebaptize anyone who has been previously baptized—even if they were baptized as an infant and do not recall the event.
“There is one body and one Spirit….one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” – Ephesians 4:4-5

Baptism of a believing adult or teenager is a joyous but serious occasion. Therefore, it requires both spiritual and physical preparation. It is not just a ritual that a person undergoes in order to become a member of a church. It is a highly significant act of obedience to Christ which publicly declares that the baptismal candidate is ready to dedicate his or her life to following Jesus. It also admits a person into the covenant life of the church family through membership.
Therefore, our church has a process that an adult must follow to ensure that they are ready for baptism and church membership.
1. The candidate for baptism must receive instruction on the meaning of baptism and the commitments that accompany it from the Session (board of elders) and/or pastor and be approved for baptism by the Session. Currently, that instruction includes participation in a three-hour long “Newcomer’s Class.”
2. Candidates must review and be prepared to respond appropriately to the baptismal vows which include profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, renouncing evil and affirming reliance on God’s grace, and declaring intent to participate actively
and responsibly in the worship and mission of the church.

Baptism of the children of believing parents or guardians beautifully represents the covenant life of God’s family. It is an occasion where the parents or guardians and the church promise to help one another raise the baptized child in the faith. The promises to be faithful to this responsibility, and to one another, are founded upon God’s promise (covenant) to be faithful to us.
Parents or guardians of children who are to be baptized must prepare to honor their commitment in these promises. Therefore, there is a process they must follow to help ensure that they and their child are ready for the child’s baptism.
1. The parents or guardians must receive instruction from the Session (board of elders) and/or pastor on the meaning of baptism and their responsibility to raise their child in the faith. Session must approve the baptism and at least one of the parents or guardians must be in “covenant partnership” (membership) with the church.
2. The promises the parents or guardians and the church make during the baptism are sealed with vows. Parents or guardians must review and be prepared to respond appropriately to these vows which include declaring their intention to provide for the Christian nurturing of their child.

If you have chosen for the baptism to be done by sprinkling or pouring, it will be conducted during a normal Sunday worship service. If you have chosen baptism by immersion, that service will be scheduled for a different time and you should talk directly with the pastor to better understand what to expect on the day of your baptism.
For Baptisms during Sunday AM worship:
ARRIVE: at the church no later than 10:10 am. Remember to allow time for parking and restroom visits, especially with children.
MEET: in the pastor’s office at 10:15 am. There is a door behind the pulpit in the northeast corner of the sanctuary.
BRING: your family and friends! Baptism is an occasion to be celebrated and shared with family and friends. It’s a great witness to God’s saving love. So, it’s especially appropriate to invite friends and family members who don’t share our faith. Towels will be provided. Those who choose baptism by pouring may wish to bring a fresh shirt for changing and hair care products.
RECEIVE: a hearty welcome into the family of God! The congregation will rejoice in your or your child’s baptism. Be prepared to receive lots of handshakes and hugs. In addition, you will receive certificates and baptized adults are given a new study bible.