Baptism is initiation into the Church
The practice of the early church was to withhold the Easter secret of Jesus’ resurrection. The danger of persecution threatened all who were considered Christian heretics. So, those who wanted to join the followers of the Jesus-way were taught for a lengthy period of time and then, on the night before Easter, the secret was revealed! On Easter morning, they were baptized – initiated into the church – in the name of the Risen Christ! While most churches, including the United Church, do not reserve baptism for Easter Sunday, we understand baptism as the ritual passage into the church, as the mark of God’s blessing and following the example of Jesus. Water is sign and symbol of cleansing, of birth, of newness. In baptism, we are spiritually cleansed; we are born of the Spirit and have new life.
By baptism, we are named as God’s own
We are marked as God’s people, claimed as God’s own, by the water of baptism. We remember the announcement of the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism: This is my beloved son…, and we appropriate those words for each person who is baptized. We are declared children of God – related – part of God’s kin.
How does the United Church baptize?
Normally, we baptize by either pouring or sprinkling. However, if you prefer immersion baptism, we will do our best to make that possible. We do not believe that any single mode of baptism is “right” or superior to another. In fact, the various modes of baptism offer beauty and meaning. Baptism by immersion symbolizes sharing in the sign of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism by pouring or sprinkling is a sign of the pouring out of the Spirit into the life of the one baptized.
I’ve been baptized before. Do I need to be baptized again to be part of the United Church?
No, you don’t. While baptism is initiation into THE church, it isn’t the initiation into any single congregation. Your baptism was the work of God and has marked your for your whole life. It is the sign of the covenant that God has made with you – to be your God, to never leave you or forsake you.
Does the church baptize babies and young children?
We do. We understand baptism as a sign of what God is to all people and what God has done for us. That is, God’s love and God’s Spirit have been poured out for all people. Understanding baptism is not an obstacle to receiving it. Therefore, we mark with the sign of God’s love all who come to receive it. That includes those who cannot yet know its meaning or those who will never have the capacity to know, at least in a cognitive way, baptism’s meaning. Baptized children are in the spiritual care of the church. At the United Church, we take that seriously and become that “village” in the life of our children.
I don’t remember my baptism. Should I be baptized again?
You don’t need to be rebaptized. However, each time we observe the Sacrament of Baptism, we are all called to remember and renew our baptism. From time to time, we offer a ritual of baptism renewal in which the water of baptism is available to all.
I’ve had membership in various churches all my adult life, but I’ve never been baptized. Is it too late?
Absolutely not! If you would like to talk about what baptism might mean to you spiritually, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our pastors to have a conversation about it. We baptize more adults than children or babies! This can be a rich, meaningful part of your spiritual journey.