WHAT IS THE MEANING OF BAPTISM?
To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow the world or others to define who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.” Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. Through baptism, you put away the old self, renounce sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledge your loyalty to Christ. In this way, baptism is a symbolic cleansing, an act of divine forgiveness, and a tangible symbol of the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new self.
To be Christian is to belong to the family of God. Baptism is initiation into that family, otherwise known as the Church. As baptized members of this family, we are commissioned to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world. We believe that the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us in our baptism, empowers us to effectively use our gifts for the sake of God’s kingdom.
WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?
Baptism is not “essential” to salvation, but it does signify a personal commitment to a life of holiness and Christian service. We do not offer “private” baptisms, as baptism is a public event, meant to be shared and affirmed by the Church. As such, baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual covenant, or promise, to live a Christian life. Your church family desires to celebrate this covenant with you, and to support you on your faith journey.
WHEN SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?
From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).
Baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached that God’s grace works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to grace.
United Methodists will baptize persons of any age, and of any background. However, because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. Instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE MY BAPTISM?
If you have made the decision to be baptized, or to baptize your child, we would love to talk with you about next steps. Typically, if you’re an adult, you will meet with one of the pastors to discuss your intentions and answer any questions you may have. If you’re a parent of a child to be baptized, we invite you to attend one of our monthly “Exploring Baptism” classes, hosted by a Pastor and our Children’s Director. For more information about how to take the next step toward baptism, please fill out the form above and a member of our staff will contact you.