Interested in exploring Baptism for yourself or for your child? Wonderful! Here is some introductory information that might be helpful. Next step? Contact our Minister, the Rev. Alton J. Ruff.
What is Baptism?
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are sacraments, sacred signs revealing God’s promises and presence, ordained by Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, in baptism we are a) united with Jesus, b) assured that God embraces us, forgives us, and holds us through life and death, c) made members of his living body the Church, and d) called to grow in Christian life.
Baptism is a gift from God. It is not something we earn or deserve, but is all about God, and in particular God’s prior, present and continuing love for us known in Jesus Christ. The mystery of faith is that God loves us long before we recognise or seek God, and also that God never gives up on us, always welcoming us back, raising us up again, and offering us new opportunities for life. ‘Baptism assures us that we belong to God. In life and in death our greatest comfort is that we belong to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.’ Living Faith 7.6.5.
God offers us assurance in baptism, and we respond with commitment. All our lives we are challenged to live in the strength of our baptism, sharing the love that we receive and know in Jesus Christ. Baptism does not protect us from the trials or tragedies of human life, but baptism does declare that God accompanies us at all times and is at work to bring all things together for good and does challenge us to live with strength and courage in human society for the good of neighbour and the glory of God.
When is Baptism conducted?
As a sacrament, baptism usually takes place as part of the congregation’s normal Sunday service of worship. The specific Sunday is designated after discussions with the minister and approval by the elders. We are baptized into Christ and his Church. Sometimes baptism may take place in a local lake or pool if full immersion is desired. In this situation the entire congregation is encouraged to attend, and the sacrament is celebrated within the context of a brief worship service in that location.
We would like our child to be baptized. What is my commitment as a parent?
The act of baptism marks but the beginning of life within the Church, and so it is necessary that at least the child be brought forward for baptism by at least one adult who is a professing member of the congregation. The adult is usually a parent, but could also be, for example, a grandparent or guardian who will be able to bring the child regularly to worship and grow the child within the Christian community and into the Christian life and faith.
What is the right age for Baptism?
Both adult and infant baptism are practiced within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In other words, any time is a good and right time.
I was never baptized as a child. What must I do to be baptized as an adult?
If you feel drawn to profess your faith in God and become a member of the Church of Christ, you will be invited to join a membership or study group to become acquainted with the basic contours of the Christian faith, and baptism will be part of your being received as a full member of the Church. Please speak to the Minister for a conversation and some further details.
How does the actual act of Baptism look?
During a regular Sunday morning service, the Minister introduces the background and benefits of the sacrament. The individual (or the child’s parents) are asked appointed questions, clarifying their trust in God and determination to lead a Christian life and grow within the Church of Christ. The minister prays that God might accompany the water with Holy Spirit, assuring and effecting a forgiveness of sin and a newness of life.
After the water has been poured, the baptism is celebrated ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’ – one is baptized into Christ, not into a particular denomination or congregation of his Church. The minister declares the one baptized to be a child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ and member of the Body of Christ, the Church.
What vows do I make at Baptism?
The minister addresses adult or young candidates for baptism and the parents of infant candidates.
Trusting in the gracious mercy of God
who has been faithful to us in all generations,
do you turn away from sin,
renounce all evil powers in the world
which rebel against God
or oppose God’s rule of justice and love?
I renounce them.
Do you renounce the ways of sin which separate you from the love of God?
I renounce them.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ,
accepting him as Lord and Saviour,
trusting in his grace and love?
Do you desire, in dependence on the Holy Spirit,
to mature as a Christian in the church,
to seek the guidance of Christ as you listen for his Word,
to celebrate his death and life at the table he provides,
and to engage in his mission to the world?
The minister addresses parents of young candidates for baptism only:
Do you promise to raise your child (children) in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ within the home and the fellowship of the church?
The minister asks the congregation to stand and questions them and the sponsors saying:
Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ,
promise to guide and nurture _____________________, ____________________,
by word and deed,
with love and in prayer,
encouraging him/her (them) to follow the way of Christ
and to be (a) faithful member(s) of his church?
The minister calls all present to profess their faith by saying:
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty?
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.