Baptism

Baptism

Baptism is the first sacrament of the Christian Church. A sacrament is defined as "an outwardly and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, ordained by Christ." Sacraments are mystery at their core and as such, can never be fully understood; rather each person is to accept a sacrament through faith and strive to grow deeper into the mystery of the sacrament and the strength, grace and mercy it brings to the individual.

In the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion, we baptize individuals as Christians; thus we recognize all Christian baptisms as those who are members of the Christian family.   

Baptism, as the first sacrament is seen as initiation into the Christian church. The church is much more than any one building. It is the people gathered by God to form the “Body” of Jesus Christ in the world. Baptism is a window—what the church calls a “Sacrament”—to God’s loving work in our own time. Because of this, all baptisms are done at regular Sunday services when the community is gathered. For very unusual circumstances, baptism other than on Sunday mornings may be considered. 

The Church has had many traditions regarding baptism, but it is important to note that baptism is less about hoops, hurdles and rules, and more about a new way to approach life. Baptism orients our whole life to God, with whom we are joined in a bond which lasts forever. In baptism, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and become followers of Jesus Christ. Baptism demands certain responsibilities, but the responsibilities are taken on with joy, peace and freedom.

To become Christian through baptism is not to “leave behind” your body, mind, or past experiences. Instead, whether you are an individual or parent, to be baptized or to have another baptized is to join a personal story with a larger story. All of our joy, grief, and everything in between is important to God. Baptism marks a central belief of Christians: God loves you. You matter to God, who desires that you respond to God’s call to live a full and meaningful life by loving God and those around you. 

In the beginning God declared that it is not good for anyone to be alone. Baptism reaffirms that declaration as each baptized person is welcomed into the family of Christian believers. 

Baptism is full and complete initiation into this new life and community. It can be entered into by anyone not already baptized by water and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, better known as the Trinity. St. Mary’s, which is part of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, maintains that a person need only be baptized once to participate fully in the life of the Church.

Many people think of baptism as a single moment, a rite of passage which occurs during a church service. At St. Mary’s, we hold that baptism is, even for infants, Godparents, and parents, a process marked by a ceremony, but lived into throughout one’s life. Christians spend their life living into the vows they utter—or have uttered for them—during the ceremony. Therefore, baptism, like all of the Church’s sacraments, is to be entered into with considerable care.

Below are St. Mary's baptismal guidelines for both adults and infants/children:

Adult Baptism
1. The individual expresses interest to St. Mary’s rector, who will set-up a plan for preparation. The preparation requires one on one meetings with the Rector prior to the baptism.

2. Each individual is required to have at least two sponsors to present the him/her for baptism. A meeting of all involved takes place the day before the baptism.  

3. There is no fee for the sacrament of Baptism, yet St. Mary's asks that you make a donation to God and the church in thanksgiving for your baptism. 
 

Baptism of Infants/Children

Infant/child baptisms take place within the context of Sunday worship service except in unusual circumstances. The congregation is present, representing the Christian family (past, present and future). Thus, it is important that the St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo community be present to witness this wonderful occasion and to pledge its support of you and your child.

1. Parent(s) notifies the Rector that they are interested in having their infant or child baptized. Questions about baptism, choice of godparents, and other items are discussed.

2. The Rector meets once with the parents (and Godparents, if possible) who are having their child baptized on a given day, usually the day before the scheduled baptism. At this time, the history, theology and meaning of baptism is discussed as well as the practical mechanics for the baptism.

3. Godparents, who are also referred to as sponsors: your child must be sponsored by one or more  persons. Sponsors and parents will present the child for baptism during the worship service, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of your child. Therefore, selecting a sponsor(s) is an important decision. 

4. If sponsors can’t be present at the meeting prior to the baptism, they will be informed of their duties to help your child grow in the knowledge and love of God as part of the baptism.

5. There is no fee for the sacrament of Baptism, yet St. Mary's asks that you make a donation to God and the church in thanksgiving for your child on this most special occasion.  
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For more information on the sacrament of Baptism, please contact St.Mary's-in-Tuxedo.