THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Baptism is an act that looks back with gratitude on what God’s grace has already accomplished, it is here and now an act of God’s grace, and it looks forward to what God’s grace will accomplish in the future. While baptism signifies the whole working of God’s grace, much that it signifies, from the washing away of sin to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, will need to happen during the course of a lifetime.
For an adult or older child — when a personal Christian commitment has taken place — baptism celebrates that act and grace of God that has made it possible. For infants, where such personal commitment has not yet taken place, baptism anticipates that act, declares its necessity, and celebrates God’s grace that will make it possible.
GIVING THANKS FOR THE BIRTH OR ADOPTION OF A CHILD
We believe that parents should have the choice whether to have their child baptized as an infant or have a service of thanksgiving for the birth or adoption of their child. In the case of the latter, baptism may take place later in childhood or when your child makes his/her profession of faith. This profession usually takes place during Confirmation when your child is older.
A service of thanksgiving for the birth or adoption of a child may be preferred by parents who desire to wait for their child to be baptized at the time when he/she makes a personal commitment to Christ. It may also be preferred when the parents desire that the child be old enough to remember their baptism. During this service, the child is presented to the congregation, scripture is read, and a prayer for the child and family is offered.
SPRINKLING, IMMERSION, POURING
Three modes of baptism are practiced in the United Methodist Church — sprinkling, immersion and pouring. Each mode brings out part of the rich and diverse symbolism given to baptism by the Bible. Each is a form of washing which symbolizes the washing away of sin (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21).
Being totally immersed in water and raised from it is a very powerful symbol of our burial and resurrection with Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12) and of being born anew of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5). Sprinkling or pouring water upon the person’s head also signifies God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21-22; Acts 2:38; 19:1-7).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why do we offer baptism on three weekends each year?
We seek to make the service of baptism a memorable experience for everyone. On these weekend services, the entire worship celebration upholds and uplifts the joy of baptism. Should an adult or youth desire baptism by immersion or pouring, another date and time may be arranged with the pastor.
Don't we need to have our child baptized as soon as possible after birth?
No. United Methodists and other protestant denominations do not believe that baptism is that which saves us. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. A child that dies before he or she is baptized is certainly welcomed into the loving arms of God.
Is baptism really important?
Yes. Jesus set the example and commanded that those who follow Him should be baptized (Matthew 28:19). Baptism is a sign that we belong to God, and it incorporates us into the universal Christian church.
What if I do not choose to have my child baptized?
Then we recommend a service of thanksgiving for your child. In this service you publicly give thanks to God for the life of your child, and a prayer is offered for the child’s spiritual growth and well-being.
What are the requisites for being baptized at Christ Church?
Christ Church should be your church home, you will need to attend a baptism class and you should participate in a baptism church service (baptism is a communal event held in the presence of the church community).
For more information about baptisms, or to schedule a time to be baptized, please call the church office at 703-425-3580.