What is baptism?
The Catechism of the Episcopal Church describes Holy Baptism as “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.” (The Book of Common Prayer p. 858) In other words, in Baptism we become full members of the Church. We understand it as a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. We celebrate this as an entire community, and indeed, the entire church community both witnesses and pledges to support those being baptized. Because baptism is a communal event, the rite is part of our Sunday morning worship service. Except in extreme emergencies, private baptisms are not performed.
When do we baptize?
The Book of Common Prayer sets aside specific days for Baptism. These days are the Easter Vigil**, which happens early on Easter Sunday morning, before the sun rises, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. We also offer baptisms during the Great Fifty Days, the season of Easter. Baptisms also occur when the Bishop visits St. Patrick’s.
**Because of the early hour and length of the Great Vigil, we only offer baptism to adults at this service.
Who can be baptized?
Like the early Church, The Episcopal Church baptizes both children and adults. We recognize baptism as a one-time event. Our liturgy begins with the words: “There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” If you have been baptized in a Christian tradition outside of the Episcopal Church, we recognize and honor your baptism. If you wish to reaffirm your faith, we invite you to renew your baptismal vows.
What are Godparents?
Parents select Godparents for their children. Being a Godparent is a special role and gift. In the Episcopal Church, we recognize Godparents as a sponsor, who, along with the parents, stands and promises to support the child, by prayer and example, as he or she begins a new life in Christ. Godparents should be Christians, who, ideally, are comfortable talking about their faith. A Godparent is a guide, who can be a great help to a child as he or she grows into his or her faith. While Godparents are often people who are family or close family friends, we encourage people to consider having at least one of the Godparents be a member of the parish so they can participate regularly and weekly in the child’s Christian formation over the years.
Preparing for Baptism
Parents and Godparents, as well as adults considering baptism, are invited into a four-week series that creatively explores what baptism is, how it impacts our lives, and the life to which it invites us.