Arranging a Baptism
MEMBERSHIP / FAITH COMMUNITY:
Since baptism is the beginning of life in Christian community, it is desirable that families planning to baptize a child choose and become members of a congregation in which they will regularly participate. It is preferable that the baptism be held at that congregation since the members of the parish share the responsibility for nurture of the child. It isn’t membership alone that is central; rather, that the parents begin attending the congregation so there is a relationship with this particular community of faith. There is not a specific ideal age to baptize an infant or young child. We recommend that you begin attending Holy Trinity for a number of months before beginning the baptismal process.
Please call or e-mail Pastor Michelle Sevig to discuss the baptismal process. A baptismal class for parents is normally offered several times a year. The baptism of a child is a unique and opportune time for parents to grow in their own spiritual lives and commitment.
Since baptism is seen as initiation into a community of faith, the common practice is to hold baptisms during the Sunday morning service. Due to the large number of baptisms at Holy Trinity, certain baptismal Sundays are designated:
This seminar is offered prior to baptismal Sundays for expectant parents, parents with newborns, those planning a baptism in the coming months, parents or others who would like a refresher on the meaning and theology of baptism. All parents planning to have a newborn baptized are asked to attend this seminar at some point before the baptism of their firstborn child.
Baptism isn't a one-time event--it's for life! Topics of the seminar will include baptismal theology, the role of parents and sponsors, and scheduling a baptism. RSVP required to Pastor Sevig prior to the desired seminar.
2017 Baptism Seminars:
- + February 23
- + May 4
Adults desiring to be baptized participate in a period of spiritual formation, reflection and study. This process usually lasts from six to nine months. Adult baptisms are normally held at the Easter Eve Vigil liturgy.
A rehearsal will be scheduled prior to the baptism to walk through the baptismal liturgy. Sponsors (and parents in the case of infant baptism) are asked to be present.
We request that flash pictures not be taken during the baptismal service; we are glad to repose scenes from the liturgy following the service. If a video camera is used, we ask that that it remain in one place during the liturgy.
About Baptism at Holy Trinity
When infants are baptized, the parents, sponsors and congregation make promises to provide Christian nurture and instruction for the child. A mutual accountability is involved. In the early centuries of Christianity, adults were baptized. The norm, therefore, was catechesis (instruction) and spiritual formation followed by baptism. Later, the baptism of infants become common for children born into families of active Christians. The baptism of infants means that catechesis follows baptism rather than precede it.
The parents, sponsors and congregation take responsibility for this nurture in the following ways:
- + nurturing the child’s relationships with God and with the congregation, its pastors and members
- + bringing the child to worship
- + teaching the child to pray at meals, bedtime and other occasions
- + bringing the child to Sunday School
- + providing instruction regarding communion
- + providing Confirmation instruction and the opportunity for the child to affirm his/her own baptism
- + celebrating the anniversary of the child's baptism
- + providing an example of a Christian life
- + giving the child a Bible and other religious symbols
Since baptism is the beginning of lifelong growth in the Christian faith, there is not a strong reason for infant baptism if parents are not committed to the spiritual nurture and education of their child within the life of a congregation. In such a case it may be preferable to celebrate a naming or blessing of a newborn. The child may choose to be baptized later as a teen-ager or adult and subsequently participate in the life and ministry of a congregation.
Method of Baptism
Holy Trinity’s font contains a large clear bowl that enables the water to be seen and used generously. Infant baptism is normally done by immersion: a small infant is dipped into the water three times, or a larger infant may sit in the font while water is poured over the head. Many parents also choose to use the Orthodox tradition of baptism in which the child is naked. Think of the baptismal font as a womb that gives us a new spiritual birth.
The generous use of water signifies baptism as a bath in which sin is drowned and we are cleansed and refreshed by the Spirit of God.
Age for Baptism and Communion
Children may be baptized at any age. Infants three to six months old are ideal for immersion in the font because at this age most babies do not have separation anxiety and are willing to be held by the pastor.
Since Lutherans believe that God's grace is offered before we can understand or respond, both the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are offered to children at any age. Some parents choose to commune their child for the first time on the day of their baptism, others wait until the child begins to reach for the bread or expresses a desire to participate. Please speak to Pastor Sevig for further discussion and planning.
Sponsors are normally baptized and practicing Christians. This enables them to take responsibility for the promises that they and the parents make at baptism.
As parents choose sponsors, they should consider individuals who could serve as role models and would take seriously the Christian nurture of the child. An option to consider: when at least one sponsor is a member of the congregation a special relationship with the parish community can develop.
In addition to sharing the responsibilities above, the sponsors can help make the anniversary of the child’s baptism an important occasion by giving cards or gifts or doing something special with him or her on that day.