Baptism is one of the important milestones in the life of a family. It’s an occasion for joy and celebration and St. Thomas Church welcomes the opportunity to be part of that celebration. In preparing for baptism, certain questions come up and this will hopefully address some of those most frequently asked.
Baptism is one of the two most important sacraments of the Church. (The other is the Eucharist.) It is administered to individuals of any age who have not been previously baptized in any other Christian denomination. If someone is joining the Episcopal church from another denomination, their baptism in that denomination is recognized and acknowledged.
We believe baptism to be a service of Christian initiation by which the individual baptized becomes a member of the body of Christ and the Church. Speaking for themselves or through the promises made by sponsors, called Godparents, the individuals vow to follow the Christian teachings and way of life. These vows include participation in corporate worship as well as individual observance of prayer and study as a life-long practice.
Baptisms at St. Thomas Church are invited and offered without previous membership of the family required. For non-parish members, an initial meeting between the Rector and the adult or the parents of the child to be baptized in mandatory. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the issues related to baptism as outlined above. A short, second meeting is needed as a rehearsal for the ceremony.
Baptisms are held primarily on four occasions related to themes of baptism, and when the Bishop visits the congregation. The church calendar varies from year to year and the baptisms are scheduled according to when these feasts occur. They are:
The Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the second Sunday of January)
The Easter Vigil (Saturday evening before Easter Sunday)
Pentecost Sunday (usually late May to mid-June)
The Feast of All Saints (always the Sunday on or after November 1)
The number of Godparents for infants and small children can vary. Godparents should be aware that they take on the responsibility of seeing that the child they sponsor takes seriously their Christian life and formation. It is therefore wise for parents to choose Godparents whose own Christian life reflects this commitment.