Thinking about becoming baptized? Want to know more?
The following is designed to answer your basic question about what baptism is, what it means, how to prepare for it, and how we do it at St. Nicholas Church.
BAPTISM MEANS A CONNECTION BETWEEN A PERSON AND GOD
At St. Nicholas Episcopal Church the service of baptism takes place on several Sundays of the year. As it signifies the public commitment between a person and God it is always administered as a part of one of our main worship services. Baptism is the outward and visible sign in which a person is connected with God in a covenantal relationship.
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.
– The Book of Common Prayer
Baptism signals that the person baptized has been seeded with inward and spiritual gifts from God.
These gifts include:
- birth into God’s family the Church
- forgiveness of sins
- union with Christ in his death and resurrection
- new life in the Holy Spirit
Baptism is not primarily involve assent to an intellectual proposition, nor is it primarily becoming a member of a church. It is incorporation in God’s own life. The Episcopal Church teaches that all people may be so incorporated and may commence upon a lifelong journey to comprehend the connection between God and one’s self. Infants, children, and adults may be baptized. At baptism, the person to be baptized must make certain renunciations and promises. The baptismal vows for infants and younger children are made on their behalf, in faith, by their sponsors. Older children and adults make their own promises.
BAPTISM MEANS A CONNECTION BETWEEN A PERSON AND OTHER PEOPLE
Baptism is a public ceremony in which the gathered community of Christians participate in welcoming a new member into the Church. The gathered community consists of the family and sponsors of the person to be baptized, along with the congregation and clergy of the local church in which the baptism takes place. St. Nicholas Church considers baptism to be a part of its ongoing relationship with the baptized person and therefore strongly encourages candidates to consider becoming members of the congregation if they have not already.
THERE IS A SPECIAL ROLE FOR BAPTISM SPONSORS
Each candidate for Holy Baptism is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons. Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants, commonly called godparents, present their candidates, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of their candidates. It is fitting that parents be included among the godparents of their own children. Parents and godparents are to be instructed in the meaning of Baptism, in their duties to help the new Christians grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of his Church.
– The Book of Common Prayer
At St. Nicholas Church, baptism instruction is conducted over one or more sessions, as needed. When numbers permit, baptismal instruction is done with groups of families to allow opportunities for mutual sharing and support.
SUGGESTIONS FOR SELECTION OF BAPTISMAL SPONSORS
The Person you select as a sponsor:
- Should be a Christian. Only such a person can, in good conscience before God and Church, make the baptismal renunciations and promises on behalf of the candidate.
- Should participate regularly with a Christian congregation for his or her own spiritual growth.
- Should be willing to enter into a long-term relationship with the person to be baptized.
- May be a family member, relative, or friend.
People frequently ask about the appropriate number of sponsors. The church requires that there be at least one sponsor and that all sponsors be baptized Christians. A long-standing church tradition specified two men and a woman for a male candidate and two women and a man for a female candidate. We suggest that at least one woman and one man, other than the parents, be selected. This provides several persons for the baptismal connection between candidate and sponsors, and creates balance and variety.
Chosen as a Baptism Sponsor, a guide explaining the role of a sponsor and offering suggestions on how sponsors can fulfill their obligations is available from the church office or on this website. We suggest that you give or send a booklet to each person you invite to serve as a sponsor. While only a baptized Christian may be an official sponsor, at St. Nicholas Church we work hard to involve all members of the family in the ceremony and to prepare all who will be involved in supporting the baptismal candidates in their new lives in Christ.
- Schedule. Those interested in Holy Baptism should complete and send a Baptism Information Form to the Rector, specifying a preferred baptism date. If it is one of the traditional baptism dates listed below, you may assume it will be approved (barring a high number of applications for the same date). If you have an urgent need for a different date, please suggest a preferred date and explain the circumstances. We will do our best to accommodate. In determining your preferred date, make sure you allow sufficient lead time for preparation of the candidate or the candidate’s parents, as well as Godparents/sponsors, if possible.
- Prepare. Prior to the baptism date, you will meet with the a member of the clergy for baptism preparation discussions. In these discussions, held over several seessions, you will discuss the baptism service and its significance, the roles of parents and sponsors, as well as the nature of your and the sponsors’ commitments to the candidate. We strongly encourage all family members and sponsors attend, if possible. You may wish to bring a copy of your Baptism Information Form to the meeting.
- Rehearse. Before the actual baptism a rehearsal will be held. Family members and sponsors, if possible, should be present. This is a time to work out the logistics for the upcoming service and to answer any final questions.
- Come Early on the Day. Baptisms are popular occasions. Plan to arrive early and sit in one of the front two rows. This will be especially necessary if there will be out-of-town Godparents/sponsors in attendance who were unable to attend preparation session(s).
TRADITIONAL DATES FOR BAPTISM
Baptisms are scheduled during 10:00am Sunday morning service on the following traditional dates:
- Epiphany Sunday (January)
- Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil (March/April)
- Pentecost Sunday (May)
- All Saints Sunday (November)
In addition, we reserve Transfiguration Sunday (July/August) as a “snow date.” In cases of urgent need, baptisms may be scheduled on other Sundays, as our schedule permits. Check with the Church Office for open dates.
For more information, contact the Rector at firstname.lastname@example.org.