Baptism is entry or initiation into the way of life taught and modeled by Jesus Christ, based on the commandment to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. It is found in every Christian denomination.
The Episcopal Church practices the baptism of infants and children as well as adults – the first pointing to God’s grace in choosing us and the latter to us choosing God. Baptism is celebrated during regular church services on All Saints Sunday (November), the Baptism of Jesus (January), Easter (March/April), and Pentecost (May).
Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, no matter the denomination, is always respected by the Episcopal Church and is never repeated.
There are three elements of baptism marking an intention to adopt a new identity in the way of Christ. Water is the principal symbol of this change – dying to our old life and being born into our new self. Baptism is full membership of the church, children receiving communion as soon as they are able. It the start of the journey of faith in every life, but is also an act that commits us to discerning God’s will in community and market place.
It is a life committed to the values of sharing a common life with fellow Christians, working for the creation of a better world, serving the needs of others, respecting the dignity of all people, and recognizing that while we will often fall short, our baptism commits us to try again. It is God’s gift to us, providing us with the opportunity to grow in love and relationship with God and our fellow human beings.
The concluding prayer after baptism summarizes the nature of the life we seek:
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy
Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the
forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of
grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them
an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to
persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy
and wonder in all your works. Amen.
-Book of Common Prayer 1979 p. 308
If you are interested in participating in this sacrament on behalf of your child, please contact Linda Willis, Director of Children and Family Services, to schedule a time for preparation. If you are an adult seeking baptism, please contact The Rev. Charlie Dupree, Rector of St. Paul’s Church, at firstname.lastname@example.org.