There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
– Ephesians 4:4-6
What is Baptism?
Baptism is one of two sacraments practiced by Presbyterians; Communion is the other. In baptism God claims us, and seals us to show that we belong to God. God frees us from sin and death, uniting us with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. By water and the Holy Spirit, we are made members of the church, the body of Christ, and joined to Christ’s ministry of love, peace, and justice. Every time we observe the Sacrament of Baptism in worship, we remember our own baptism and how God is working in and through us.
Why is Baptism Important?
Baptism represents our first step on the journey of faith, and it assures us of God’s presence as we travel through life. Through baptism, we become members of God’s family, joined with members of our congregation and with Christians throughout history and across the world. Jesus gave this command to the disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
What Does Baptism Mean?
Baptism is the Church’s proclamation and experience that we are who we are because God has first chosen us and loved us and called us into His kingdom. Baptism by water is a visible sign of God’s love toward His children, and it is represented in the covenant that is sealed among God, the parents of the child or the baptized adult and the worshipping congregation. Baptism is not something that we earn or ever deserve, but that we receive as a sign and seal of God’s eternal grace. Presbyterians do not believe that baptism is essential to salvation, nor do we believe that we are saved by baptism. We believe that Baptism is a sign of adoption into Christ’s Church but recognize that not all genuine believers have been baptized.
At What Age Do We Baptize?
No matter the age at which you are baptized, baptism celebrates the start of a new life in Christ.
Parents bring their child for baptism on the basis of their own faith, with the hope that the child will grow in faith and love and serve God. When we present babies for baptism, we do so as witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith.
We also welcome adults to be baptized. The baptism of those who enter the covenant upon their own profession of faith witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of grace calls for fulfillment in a response of faithfulness.
What is the Rite of Baptism?
The Sacrament of Baptism is administered in the presence of the congregation during a worship service. During the service, persons to be baptized come to the front and stand near the baptismal font with the pastor and an Elder. When a young child is baptized, the child’s parents (or guardian), also gather at the font. The pastor will introduce the sacrament and present questions to the person or parents, and the congregation promises to nurture the child/adult; then the pastor administers the Sacrament of Baptism.
Why Wash with Water?
Sacraments are “visible signs of an invisible grace.” In the Sacrament of Baptism, water signifies our cleansing from sin, our regeneration, our adoption into the family of God, and our being made new by the work of Christ.