Baptism is the outward sign of belief in Jesus. It represents our union with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. Baptism signifies our birth into God’s family, forgiveness of sins and our new life in the Holy Spirit that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Logically, baptism would follow that belief, which is the case with adult baptism. But, coming out of the Jewish tradition of circumcision, Christian parents include their children in the external expressions of faith. A child’s baptism, therefore, is their entry point into the Covenant Community of the Church. The Scripture encourages us that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Since many Baptisms are of children, we need to give it special consideration. There is only one reason for the Christian baptism of a child – the parents have made Jesus Christ the head of their household. Such families have a special relationship (called the New Covenant) with God in which they want their children to share. The Lord Jesus has given Baptism as the outward sign of this relationship
When a young child is presented for baptism, godparents (or “sponsors”) stand with the parents, and join them in making very serious commitments. The parents and godparents promise to do all in their power to insure the child’s Christian nurture. Keep several considerations in mind regarding the selection of godparents:
- Their Christian Faith & Practice. Have they placed their personal trust in Jesus Christ’s redeeming work on the cross? Do they actively seek to abide in His will? Are they baptized?
- Their Church. Are they committed and involved in their church’s ministry and outreach? Godparents need not be members of Grace Anglican or even Anglican; but they must be believing, participating and baptized members of a Christian church.
- Their Commitment to Your Child. Is there evidence that they will take an intentional and active involvement in the spiritual life of your child.
- Their Availability & Proximity. In our increasingly mobile society, we can never be certain of the permanence of any of our relationships, but it makes the most sense if the godparents live close enough to maintain a good relationship with you and your child.
The promises the godparents will make, along with the parents, are earnest commitments that can only be made by faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Parents are strongly urged to recruit only persons who are willing and able to carry out those responsibilities faithfully.
Occasionally, grandparents or legal guardians will want to have their grandchildren or child under their care baptized. This is possible but only in cases where the parents are not willing to assume the responsibilities of baptism. In addition, we will need the permission of the parents to proceed. Of course, the responsibilities of baptism will then belong to the grandparents or guardians.
Baptism Instruction and Rehearsal
Prior to the baptism, there needs to be both baptism instruction and a rehearsal. These can usually be at the same time. ALL participants in the baptism need to be present for this. Please plan ahead for this important event. The exact time for the instruction and rehearsal is to be coordinated with the clergy.
Scheduling the Baptism
Baptisms are always done in church on a Sunday. It is important to schedule the baptism with the clergy before inviting friends and loved ones. Otherwise, there can be scheduling conflicts and people’s plans will have to be changed. In our Anglican tradition, baptisms are not done during the season of Lent.