Baptismal Covenant is Godís word to
us, proclaiming our adoption by grace,
and our word to God, promising our
response of faith and love.
Those within the covenant
constitute the community we call the
Church; therefore, the services of the
Baptismal Covenant are conducted during
the public worship of the congregation
where the personís membership is to
held, except in very unusual
basic service of the Baptismal Covenant
is Holy Baptism, by which we are
incorporated into the Church, which is
the body of Christ, and made one in
Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27-28).
baptism initiates us into Christís
whole Church and not only into a
denomination, United Methodists
recognize all Christian baptisms and
look upon baptism as something that
should unite, rather than divide,
Methodists may baptize by any of the
modes used by Christians.
Candidates or their parents have
the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or
immersion; and pastors and congregations
should be prepared to honor requests for
baptism in any of these modes.
Each mode brings out part of the
rich and diverse symbolism given to
baptism by the Bible.
Each is a form of washing which
symbolizes the washing away of sin
2:38; 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews
10:22; 1 Peter 3:21). Being totally buried in water and
raised from it is also a powerful symbol
of our burial and resurrection with
6:3-5; Colossians 2:12)
and of being born anew of water and the
3:3-5; Titus 3:5). Pouring or sprinkling water upon the candidateís head also
signifies Godís pouring out of the
Holy Spirit (Matthew
3:16; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21-22; Acts
is an act that looks back with gratitude
on what Godís grace has already
accomplished, it is here and now an act
of Godís grace, and it looks forward
to what Godís grace will accomplish in
While baptism signifies the whole
working of Godís grace, much that it
signifies, from the washing away of sin
to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit,
will need to happen during the course of
If an act of personal Christian
commitment has taken place, baptism
celebrates that act and the grace of God
that has made it possible. If
such an act has not yet taken place,
baptism anticipates that act, declares
its necessity, and celebrates Godís
grace that will make it possible.
In either event, baptism
signifies the entry of the candidate
into the general ministry of all
anticipates a lifetime of further and
deeper experiences of God, further acts
of Christian commitment, and ministries
in the world.
Confirmation, ordinations and
consecrations to particular ministries,
and all other steps in ministry grow out
of what God has done as declared and
signified in baptism.
The covenant of Christian
marriage reflects the Baptismal
Finally, as declared in the
Service of Death and Resurrection,
baptism signifies and anticipates death
and resurrection to eternal glory.
of any age are suitable candidates for
baptism because Christís body, the
Church, is a great family that includes
persons of all ages.
On the day the Church was born,
ďRepent, and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ so that
your sins may be forgiven; and you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is for you and
for your childrenĒ
The New Testament repeatedly
records that when a believer was
baptized, the believerís whole
household was baptized
16:15, 33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16).
Nowhere does the New Testament
record, or even suggest, that any
Christian family delayed the baptism of
their children until they could make
their own profession of faith.
Jesusí words, ďLet
the little children come to me, do not
stop them; for it is to such as these
that the kingdom of God belongsĒ (Mark
tell us that our Lord has expressly
given to little children a place among
the people of God, which holy privilege
must not be denied them.
these scriptures make clear, we are not
to practice indiscriminate baptism.
Children and others who have not
reached the developmental stage of
making decisions for themselves are
presented by parents and/or sponsors
(godparents) who make the same
profession of faith that a candidate
would make and who promise to nurture
the candidate(s), in their family and in
the church family, so that they will
come to accept Godís grace for
themselves, to profess their faith
openly, and to lead a Christian life.
If there are sponsors or
godparents, they should be selected
carefully because they will help nurture
the person to be baptized in the
This role is not only an honor;
it is a serious responsibility.
Parents or sponsors (Godparents)
should be members of Christís holy
Church; and it is the duty of the pastor
to instruct them concerning the
significance of Holy Baptism, their
responsibilities for the Christian
training of the baptized child, and how
these obligations may be fulfilled.
is also essential with candidates who
take the vows for themselves.
They also need instruction in the
significance and responsibilities of
The infant being presented for
baptism and the adult seeking baptism
has more in common, spiritually
speaking, than may at first appear.
Godís grace has taken the
initiative and is already at work in the
lives of both.
Both are making responses to
Godís grace that are appropriate to
Both need to grow in Christ
within Christís family, the Church,
and with the nurturing help of other
There may be sponsors or
godparents when candidates can speak for
themselves as well as when they cannot.
of the age of the candidate, the
Christian community responds in faith to
Godís grace by claiming and
incorporating this new member of
Christís holy Church.
The congregation corporately
sponsors each candidate and takes vows
at each baptism that are to be taken
just as seriously as the vows of parents
or individual sponsors.
When someone is baptized, it is a
crucial event in the life both of that
person and of the Church.
What happens to that member of
the body of Christ will make a
difference to every other member, and
the rest of the Church can never again
be the same.
By the Sacrament of Baptism the
Church pledges to that member:
joy, your pain, your gain, your loss,
are ours, for you are one of us.Ē
the baptism of a child facing imminent
death may be perceived as an emergency
by the persons concerned, and while
baptism may be an appropriate rite of
initiation into the family of Christ
under such circumstances, it should be
made clear that United Methodism does
not teach that infants who die before
they are baptized will be denied full
United Methodism has always
strongly affirmed the biblical teaching
that Christ died for all, and that
Godís prevenient grace is available to
all and is sufficient for such children.
further steps in faith and life the
baptized may take, baptism is not
administered to any person more than
once, for while our baptismal vows are
less than reliable, Godís promise to
us in the sacrament is steadfast.
Once baptized, we have been
initiated into Christís body the
Church and are members of Christís
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baptized before they are old enough to
take the vows for themselves make their
personal profession of faith in a
service called confirmation.
Those who are able to take the
vows for themselves at their baptism are
not confirmed, for they have made their
public profession of faith at baptism.
confirmation, or after baptism when
candidates take the vows for themselves,
Christians are encouraged to reaffirm
the Baptismal Covenant at significant
Individuals may make such a
reaffirmation when transferring into a
congregation, when renewing
participation in the church after a time
of lapse, or when taking further steps
in their personal faith journey.
Congregations make such a
reaffirmation as a part of every service
of the Baptismal Covenant and may do so
at other appropriate times as well.
Such a reaffirmation is not,
however, to be understood as baptism.
United Methodist Book of Worship,
Nashville: The United Methodist
Publishing House, 1992, pp 81-84