So let’s explain a bit about what Baptism is:
What does Baptism signify?
The sacrament of baptism is an outward and visible sign of the grace of God. Through baptism a person is joined with the universal church, the body of Christ. In baptism, God works in us the power of forgiveness, the renewal of the spirit, and the knowledge of the call to be God's people always.
How does Baptism take place?
Baptism with water and the Holy Spirit is the sign and seal of our common discipleship. Since baptism is God's gift, the Holy Spirit is called to be upon the water and those being baptized. The act of baptism also marks the beginning of new life of discipleship with Christ, the human response to that gift.
Why is water used?
Water is an essential element of baptism. Water is a prominent symbol of cleansing and life in the Bible—the water of creation, the great flood, the liberation of Israel through the sea, the water of Mary's womb, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the woman at the well, and Jesus' washing of the feet of the disciples. That is why water is visibly present in the service. In our tradition, the mode of baptism is usually ‘sprinkling.’ In rare cases, when the Baptism occurs away from the church, immersion in a body of water is possible.
Who can be baptized?
Infants, children, youth and adults. For infants and children, as well as for youth and adults who have never been baptized before, baptism marks their acceptance into the care of Christ's church, the sign and seal of God's grace and forgiveness, and the beginning of their Christian faith and life.
Is Re-baptism necessary?
We are part of the United Church of Christ, which recognizes the validity of all baptisms, therefore there is no need for re-baptism. If there is a question about whether baptism has taken place, a conditional phrase may be added as a person is baptized, such as "if you are not already baptized." It is a well-accepted practice, however, for people to renew their baptismal vows in a service of baptismal renewal. We do that for the whole congregation during a worship service each January.
Is there a special time for Baptism?
Baptism is a personal celebration in the lives of the individual candidates and their families. It is also a celebration within the local church family and a recognition of its commitment. For this reason, baptism is celebrated in the presence of the community gathered for worship.
When should a person be baptized?
Baptism takes place at any worship service where the community is gathered. Here at Atkinson Congregational Church, we usually celebrate Baptisms on the second Sunday of the month.
Are sponsors present?
Parents, in consultation with the pastor, may choose sponsors or Godparents for infants and young children who are to be baptized. At the time of the baptismal service, the sponsors, who accompany the candidates and present them for baptism, may make promises identical to the promises of the parents concerning their role.