The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
What is Holy Baptism?
"Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body, the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble." (The Book of Common Prayer 298.) Full initiation means that nothing else will be required for a person to have full membership in the Church. Baptism is the sacramental rite that admits the believer to the Holy Eucharist and to participate in the life of the congregation.
The Prayer Book also says that the union established between the person baptized and God is permanent. Those who are baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity are united to Christ and other baptized people forever. God remains faithful to the covenant that he made with us in Baptism even when we are unfaithful.
Because the church places great weight upon this sacrament, it is the duty of the priest to carry baptism out in accordance with The Episcopal Church (national church) canon law. You can expect your parish priest to follow the following canon :
"It shall be the duty of Rectors or Priests-in-Charge to ensure that persons be prepared for Baptism. Before baptizing infants or children, Rectors or Priests-in-charge shall ensure that sponsors be prepared by instructing both the parents and the Godparents concerning the significance of Holy Baptism, the responsibilities of parents and Godparents for the Christian training of the baptized child, and how these obligations may properly be discharged." (III.9.5(b)(3)
What can I expect?
Baptism is a wonderful event in one's life. It is a celebration of the formal welcoming of a new person into the church. Before this day, you can expect to meet with the Rector and the Rector will engage you in a conversation about baptism in the church and why you would like to have your child baptized or be baptized yourself. This is an important step in one's spiritual journey in the church and it should always be taken seriously.
You can also expect the rector to provide a form on which you will put detailed information about yourself and/or your child, sponsors, etc. There are different forms for children and adults. You can also find these forms below.
Primarily, the church baptizes infants. The parents & godparents make the decision that their child will grow up in the faith and vow to support them in that. However, It's important to remember Jesus' baptism as an adult. And although less common today, the church also baptizes adults who make the decision to be baptized on their own. They choose their own sponsors who will support them in their decision.
When can we have the baptism?
Each baptism is a celebration of the whole church. Typically, baptisms are celebrated on Sundays, and on special occasions when the meaning of baptism can be particularly highlighted. Those include The Baptism of our Lord, The Great Vigil of Easter, Pentecost, All Saints, and the visitation of the Bishop. On one of the appointed days, you can choose to have the baptism at any of the services. Usually, it is possible to plan your baptism for one of these days. Baptism at another time is something you should discuss with the rector.