This information is provided by First United Church Mount Pearl. It outlines our approach and policy for the benefit of parents concerning the Sacrament of Baptism for Infants & Children.
We rejoice with you in your happiness surrounding the life of your child. We believe that the love of God surrounds your child now and for all of life. As God’s children we are created in God’s image and we believe God’s love reaches us at every point in our lives.
Sacrament Instituted by Jesus
In the United Church of Canada, and in most Protestant churches throughout the world, two sacraments are recognized to have been instituted by Jesus and are followed carefully to this day. These are the sacraments of Holy Communion, and the Sacrament of Baptism for either infants (children) or adults.
Baptism marks the beginning of life within the community of the church. In a way baptism is entry into the church as the family of God. If, by baptism, we understand that we become members of the church, then it follows that the baptism of children is for children whose parents or guardians are already members in good standing within the church community and within a particular congregation.
To quote a statement from the United Church Manual, the document which spells out the various policies of the United Church:
The Sacrament of Baptism, in the case of children, shall normally be administered with the consent of the session to those children whose parents or guardians, one or both, have been baptized and confirmed and are members in good standing. Exceptions to this rule of procedure may be made only with the consent of the Session, which should share with the parents the responsibility for the Christian upbringing of the child, should require a sponsor to be provided who has been baptized and confirmed and is a member in good standing, and should seek through the means of grace to bring the parents into full, active communion with the United Church.
The Worship Committee of First United Church is the equivalent of the Session mentioned above, and with the approval of the Official Board, presents the following baptism policy:
- Baptism shall normally be administered to children of parents who are registered at First United as members in good standing. (The term members in good standing is generally taken to mean persons who support First United with their time, talents, and money). At least one parent, or guardian, should be in this category.
- If parents, who are not members in good standing at First United, request baptism the baptism will be approved on one of the following conditions:
i) The parent(s), first show their desire to be a real part of congregation by their attendance and support for the period of at least one month prior to the approval for baptism.
ii) The parent(s), because of family connections, who want to have their child baptized back home, have some proof that they are involved in a congregation near the place where they live.
iii) A person (or persons) in good standing at First United is willing to be a sponsor for the child in place of the usual commitment of the parents. In this case it is understood that the sponsor has the approval of the parents to encourage the child to grow up within the church, and that the parents would continue to be encourages to take active role in the church.
You may ask: How come churches are getting tough about baptism all of a sudden? Didn’t we always get our kids baptized without all this fuss? Yes, but in years past almost everyone went to church, or at least some members of each family were active in the congregation. That just isn’t true anymore. At least 250 of our families at First United are part of the congregation in name only. How can parents promise, in truth, to raise up their children in the church if they are not a part of it themselves?
It is our opinion that, in such cases, it would be better to wait and let your child decide later for him/herself.
You may say: We don’t go to church but we still want our child baptized. But why would you want your child to do something that you don’t want yourself? In this policy, which you just read, we are saying to you:
If you feel this way, why not come to church for a while and, who knows, you may even find it to be a significant part of your life.
You should never request baptism for your child because some other members of your family or close friends pressure you to do it. Only you will make vows, and only you, the parents, can decide how you will raise your children.
We believe God loves every child, and as a congregation we promise to do our best to provide the things needful for children in the church, so that each young person may come to know Christ. So please consider this baptism policy carefully and prayerfully.
Once you have made the decision that you will request baptism, please contact the Church Office. We will provide you with the forms you need for completion and return to the office. Appointments will then be set up with the minister, and if your request is approved by the appropriate committee(s), you will be given the date and time when sacrament will take place.
Since baptism marks entrance into the church, it follows that baptism ought to take place in the church. This also allows members and adherents to promise to do their part towards the Christian nurture of the person to be baptized. Therefore, unless exceptional circumstances prohibit it, baptism will be administered during the public worship.
On the Matter of Photos
To honor the sacredness of the sacrament and the worship service we ask that no photos be taken during the baptism ceremony. The minister can be available after the worship service for photos if desired.