Baptisms at Gethsemane
Do you want to bring a child for baptism, or are you thinking of being baptized yourself? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about baptism at Gethsemane UMC:
Why should infants be baptized?
In the United Methodist Church, we offer the sacrament of baptism to people of any age and we recognize the baptism of every other Christian denomination as valid. Infant baptism is encouraged in our church, although not required. This practice is in keeping with the oldest traditions of the church, as infants were baptized in New Testament times together with the other members of their families.
In infant baptism, parents take vows on behalf of their children, committing to raise their child as part of a Christian community. Children who are baptized as infants continue to grow in their faith through involvement in the church and “confirm” their baptism vows, taking responsibility for those vows themselves, through confirmation. We do not have an alternative ritual for formally blessing children who are not baptized as infants. A pastor will be glad to offer an informal private prayer of blessing for your infant or other family members outside of worship.
What is the process for baptizing older children, youth or adults?
An appropriate orientation for the baptism ritual will be arranged depending on the individual’s age and circumstances. If a youth is near confirmation age, the rituals of Baptism and confirmation may be appropriately combined. A pastor will be glad to discuss this with you. To arrange a baptism for an adult or for a combination of family members at once, please contact Pastor Diane.
Do I have to be a member of the church to have my child baptized?
Parent membership is not a requirement for the baptism of children in The United Methodist Church. Being a Christian disciple through regular church involvement and committing to raise your child as part of a church community are requirements. [See further explanation below.] If you are interested in joining the church, please share that with the pastor.
How do I schedule a baptism?
Contact Pastor Pat Hinker, preferably by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also leave a phone message at the office (651) 784-7667.
Does the baptism have to be during a church service?
Yes, unless there is a particular disability or special need that prevents a baptism from being held during regular worship services. In baptism you are making a commitment to your child and the congregation also makes a commitment to you – to walk with you in your child’s faith journey and to support your family. For this reason the gathered congregation should always be part of the baptism ritual.
When can I have my child’s baptism?
Baptisms may be scheduled at any of our regular Sundayservices, but may not be available on some dates due to special events. Baptisms are generally not scheduled on the first Sunday of any month due to Communion, but exceptions can be made for special family circumstances. Baptisms are usually scheduled at least 4 weeks in advance. Families are asked to meet with Pastor Diane before the date of their sacrament.
Can I have a retired pastor or a pastor from another church?
If you have another pastor who is a special part of your life and want that individual to help officiate, please discuss this possibility with Pastor Diane. The invitation to the other pastor must always come from the clergy appointed to the church.
Should we have godparents? How many?
In The United Methodist Church we don’t have “godparents” per se, but we do have baptismal sponsors. These persons are included in the ritual of baptism and commit themselves to supporting your child’s faith development. Sponsors do not need to be church members, but should be baptized Christians. Sponsors are not required for baptism. Two is an ideal number, but one is fine or you may have as many as four. When you meet with a pastor prior to the baptism, you can discuss your plan for sponsors. If there is an individual whom you would like to include in the baptism ritual who is not Christian, please speak to Pastor Diane about it.
What does The United Methodist Church teach about baptism?
In The United Methodist Church we teach that baptism is a sacrament – a ritual commanded by Jesus in scripture that mysteriously conveys the grace of God. This sacrament is a precious gift from God who already loves your child, but God’s love is never limited to those who have received the sacrament.
One of the important and somewhat distinctive beliefs of The United Methodist Church is God’sprevenient grace. In other words, God loves you from the beginning of your existence and certainly before you are ever able to love God in return. All people, whether baptized or not and whether believers or not, are surrounded by God’s prevenient grace. God’s love for a child could never be lessened by the lack of a sacrament of ritual.
Because of God’s special grace in the sacrament, the ritual itself is important. Baptism, however, is not magic. It can be compared to a seed: the full potential of the mature plant lies within the seed, but that potential cannot possibly be reached without the seed having the proper environment and care. Likewise, the grace of God in baptism can only come to full fruition when an individual continues to be surrounded by the Christian community, living and growing in faith. Life in the church allows us to grow into and experience God’s justifying grace, which saves us from sin and God’s sanctifying grace, which helps us to grow more Christlike and loving.