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Why do we baptize?
We understand Baptism to be the sacrament by which God adopts us as God’s children and makes us members of Christ’s body, the Church. A sacrament, for Episcopalians, is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In Baptism we welcome new members into the Body of Christ, commit ourselves to support them in their life in Christ, and re-dedicate our own lives to Christ. Baptism is a wonderful celebration that involves the whole congregation.
Because we understand Baptism to be an action by and in the community of faith, the rite is carried out as part of our regular Sunday worship service. Private Baptisms are not performed, except in cases of extreme emergency.
When do we baptize?
The Book of Common Prayer sets aside specific days for Baptism, each having a special significance in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ or of the Church. These days are the Easter Vigil, which happens the evening before Easter Sunday, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day and the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, with the addition of another date every August, to be determined.
Who can be baptized?
We baptize both adults and children, as did the earliest Christian church. The Episcopal Church recognizes Baptism as a Christian sacrament. If you have been baptized in another Christian denomination, we honor and celebrate that. You do not need to be baptized again. If, having been baptized previously, you desire to reaffirm your faith we have a similar rite in which you may do this.
How do we prepare for Baptism?
As a candidate for Baptism, or as the parent of a child being brought for Baptism, you will be prepared in several ways. First, the congregation will pray for you by name, both in public worship and in private prayers. On the first Sunday of this preparation period, you will be introduced to the congregation and officially named a candidate for Baptism.
Second, you will be required to attend Sunday services during the month of preparation, as well as several Baptism preparation classes. These classes will explore the meaning of Baptism, discuss the vows you will take as a candidate or as the parent of a candidate, explore how you might live out those vows, and investigate the symbols of the rite itself. Finally, you will attend a rehearsal for the rite itself. This rehearsal will be scheduled the day before the Baptism.
Who will act as Godparents or Sponsors?
You will choose godparents for yourself or for your child. These people should be baptized Christians, willing to vow they will see to your or your child’s spiritual well-being and support you in your spiritual growth.