1. Why do it?
We baptize because Jesus himself was baptized and he commanded his followers to
baptize. At the beginning of the baptism, we acknowledge this by quoting the words
of Jesus: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). Baptism serves as a
visible sign of God's love and our being a part of the community of the people of
God that is the church. Our constitution mentions seven different significant
meanings of baptism: "the faithfulness of God, the washing away of sin,
rebirth, putting of the fresh garment of Christ, being sealed by God's spirit,
adoption into the covenant family of the Church, resurrection and illumination
in Christ" (W-2.3004).
2. Why does our church baptize infants and adults
while other churches only baptize adults?
In the early 1980's, churches from many different traditions (Protestant, Roman
Catholic and Orthodox) came to a historic convergence of understanding in a document
called "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry." Churches in the Baptist tradition, a
minority view, emphasize the importance of the human response to God's grace.
The Presbyterian teaching, along with all other churches, places the emphasis on
God's love for us and our children. Because of the ecumenical discussions, our
church and other non-Baptist churches recognize the baptisms of each other church as
entrance into the universal Church. You are not baptized as a "Presbyterian," but as
3. What is the parents' role?
In a baptismal service, parents reaffirm their own faith and promise to help their
children grow in the Christian faith. These promises are as important as wedding
vows. The Session, which makes the decision as to whom may be baptized, expects at
least one parent to be an active member of the church and to encourage children to
be active in all aspects of church life. This means not only educational programs
(Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, intergenerational programs, and times at home
reading the Bible and talking about our faith), but also worship (Sunday morning and
weekday times like graces before meals and bedtime prayers), fellowship (such as
church-wide family events and picnics) and Christian service (CROP Walk and One
Great Hour of Sharing world banks are two examples). Failure to set a Christian
example for children to be active in such ways is to not take seriously the promises
made to God and the church at the time of baptism.
4. What's the congregation's role?
It is not easy being a parent at any time, nor is it easy to take seriously the
promises made at baptism. We as a church promise to support parents in their
challenging call. We do this by providing all of the opportunities to be involved
through activities mentioned above and in many other ways. After a child has been
baptized, we present the family with a children's Bible in the worship service as a
sign of our wanting to help in the child's spiritual development. Another example,
the Active Parenting course that we plan to offer in the Fall, is an excellent way
to learn from others about the most difficult job in the world. The congregation's
promise is just as important as the parent's; we need to be forever looking for ways
to be supportive of families through generous giving of our time, talents and
treasure. We baptize children in Sunday worship services because it serves as a
reminder to us all that we are loved by God and are a part of the Church.