What is baptism?
Baptism is “the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God” (Book of Common Prayer, 858). In the teaching and practice of the Episcopal Church, baptism confers full membership and participation in the life of the Church. Baptism is thus about the community as much as it is about the individual.
The Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer, 304-305) provides a concise account of the way Episcopalians understand baptism. The Covenant identifies baptism as a transformative event that results in new patterns of believing, belonging, and behaving in the lives of those who are baptized. In other words, the Covenant describes baptism as the beginning of a life of committed discipleship, a dedicated effort to conform one’s life to Christ. This is true both for those who are baptized and for those who serve as sponsors (parents, Godparents) of those who are baptized.
There is no such thing as a private baptism. Adults and older children seeking baptism are sponsored by members of their families and close friends; infants and younger children are sponsored by members of their families and Godparents. In both cases, those being baptized are surrounded and affirmed by the community. Accordingly, all baptisms take place during public worship.
Baptism is most appropriately administered as part of the celebration of the Eucharist during the principal service on a Sunday or other major observance (Book of Common Prayer, 298). Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day (or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day), and on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (Book of Common Prayer, 312). Baptism is also available at other times.
How do I prepare for baptism?
In keeping with both the Book of Common Prayer and the Canons of the Episcopal Church, all candidates for baptism and their sponsors (parents, Godparents, etc.) are required to attend preparation classes before candidates will be eligible to receive baptism. The purpose of these classes is to help candidates and their sponsors become familiar with the meaning of baptism, the commitments and responsibilities associated with baptism, and the way baptism informs the life of faith. It is necessary for candidates and sponsors to complete preparation classes before scheduling their baptism. Adults seeking baptism and adults serving as sponsors for those seeking baptism attend classes designed for adults; children and youth attend classes appropriate for their age.
The following dates have been reserved for baptism preparation classes during late 2023 and 2024 (candidates and sponsors must attend both sessions):
November 26 and December 3, 2023 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
February 11 and 18, 2024 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
April 7 and 14, 2024 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
July 7 and 14, 2024 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
September 22 and 29, 2024 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
November 24 and December 1, 2024 - 10:15-10:45 a.m.
If you would like more information about being baptized or sponsoring someone for baptism, please contact Tammy Hale at [email protected] or at (214) 692-3032.