Congratulations on considering this important step in one’s faith journey. If you are looking to baptize a baby, we congratulate on the new addition to your family. We hope that you have considered the importance of and commitment to your faith. We hope the section below will help you in your discernment.
What is Baptism?
We should begin with what Baptism is NOT. It is not a magical act that will protect a child against evil. Although it is a joyful occasion, it is not just a reason to throw a party. It is not a private family rite. It is not something to be approached casually and lightly.
The Rev’d Dr. Ruth A. Meyers wrote the following for our national church website ( visit the website for more info) http://www.episcopalchurch.org
Our Prayer Book describes baptism as “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the church.” What does this mean?
Through baptism, individuals become members of the Church — not just the Episcopal Church, but the universal Church extending throughout the world and over time to include Christians from every age.
Since the time of Jesus, Christians have used water as the sign of entry into Christian life. Water cleanses us from sin, from all that has marred our relationships with God, with others, and with creation. It plunges us into death, drowning our old life so that we can be raised to new life in Christ. From it, we are born again, into a community where we are adopted daughters and sons of God. In the Episcopal Church, the candidate may be immersed or have water poured over him or her, while the minister proclaims, “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
By the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s active presence in the world, the power that enables our rebirth. The Spirit is active in the baptismal waters, in the laying on of hands that follows, and in the community gathered to celebrate the baptism.
Christ’s Body the Church
The Church is not a human institution or club, but a living body, the community of those who believe in and proclaim Jesus.
When are Baptisms done?
In keeping with the rubrics of our Prayer Book, Baptisms are done with the context of the main Sunday Eucharist. ( BCP 298 ). The Prayer Book ( BCP 312 ) also directs us that sacrament of Baptism be reserved for the following days: The Baptism of our Lord (7 January ), Easter ( 1 April), Pentecost (20 May) All Saints Sunday ( 4 November ). In addition to those days specifically reserved for Baptism, the clergy will also consider administering the sacrament on the Sunday after the Feast of St. James ( 29 July ) and Holy Cross Sunday ( 16September ). The dates listed above are for 2018.
Who can be baptized at St. James?
One does not have to be a member of St. James to be baptized at St. James. The expectation of the clergy is that before a Baptism one will be attending church regularly and attend the Baptismal preparation classes. In our outline of Faith or Catechism, We are reminded that The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spreading of the kingdom of God. ( BCP 856 ). The vows made at Baptism emphasize this continued commitment to a faith community.
Who should the Sponsors/Godparents be?
There is a misconception that Godparents automatically become the guardian of a child should something happen to the parents. There is no legal status granted by virtue of Baptism to the Godparents or sponsors. Parents need to legally document guardianship issues. You should spend considerable time in selecting them. Because of the vows made at Baptism on the behalf of the children, Sponsors or godparents should also be people who are actively living out there faith in prayer, church attendance and spreading the Gospel of Jesus. In the case of a child, they should belong to a church that believes in and practices infant baptism. Ideally, they should be actively participating in an Episcopal Church. A letter from the sponsor’s church attesting this may be requested. There is not a specific number of Godparents.
What if I don’t live in Brookhaven?
From time to time, people may wish to have their children baptized at St. James because of the family connection to the faith community. The expectation is that you are actively participating in the life of a church locally and that the clergy person will write to the clergy of St. James attesting to this.
What if I was baptized in another church?
The Episcopal Church believes that once a person has been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, they have been baptized once and for all. There is no need to be baptized again.
Other things to remember
Once baptized, a person regardless of age is considered a member of the Church. It is the practice of the Episcopal Church that all Baptized individuals may receive Holy Communion. There is no magic age by which a Baptism must happen. All ages are invited and welcome to consider living a faithful life in following Jesus. St. James does not “rent out” the church for Baptisms. All services are done by the clergy of St. James. Because the Prayer Book directs us that Baptism is to be done within the context of the Community celebration, we do not do private ceremonies. Remember that Baptism is a step in a continuing lifelong journey of following Jesus.
If there are specific questions that have not been answered above, please feel free to contact us at 631 286-0726.