Thinking about Baptism?
Welcome to the Family!
We are very pleased and honoured that you have chosen to explore the meaning of Baptism and the Christian life with us at St. Peter’s Anglican Church.
Here is some information for adults seeking Baptism and for families wishing to have their child Baptized.
If you have any questions about Holy Baptism or the Christian way of life or the Anglican tradition please feel free to talk with our parish priest or any other member of St. Peter’s. Please contact the church to find out when the next Baptism will be celebrated.
What is The Sacrament of Holy Baptism?
- Baptism is the initiation into the Christian life.
- Baptism is becoming part of the Body of Christ, Jesus’ living presence within the community of disciples in the world .
- Baptism is a Greek word that means to “plunge” or “immerse” or “wash” in water. The early Church baptised by immersing people’s whole body in water. In Baptism we immerse our whole lives in the life of Jesus Christ.
- Baptism is a Sacrament of the Church. A Sacrament is a visible sign of God's love in action. The outward sign of Baptism is water. In inner sign of Baptism is a life that is transformed and made new.
- In Baptism our “old selves” (all that is negative and turns away from God) dies. We rise up out of the water reborn as children of God, made disciples of Jesus Christ, and join the community of faith empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
- Baptism is about new life and new beginnings.
- Baptism is about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Holy Baptism as A New Way of Life
In Baptism, you are making a decision to start a journey of faith and asking the Church to walk alongside you to support you on that spiritual journey. Part of that journey may include;
- Rediscovering what it means to be a child of God and to be loved by him.
- Discovering our lives and our relationships have meaning.
- Seeing God in the beauty of this world and in the lives of others.
- Feeling connected to something bigger than yourself.
- Discovering a sound and ancient wisdom.
- Exploring a relevant and ancient tradition.
- Being empowered by God to make a difference in our hurting world.
- Knowing God is love. Jesus is with us. The Spirit upholds us.
Who Can Be Baptized?
- Anyone seeking to discover and enter into a fuller life with God.
- Anyone committed to a period of prayerful and thoughtful preparation.
- Anyone willing to join fellow “saints and sinners” in the Christian community.
- Any person of any age.
Preparing for Holy Baptism and the Catechumenate
Prior to Baptism you will meet with the parish priest for a discussion and an exploration of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Youth or adults seeking Baptism will enter into a period of prayer and exploration of the Christian faith called the Catechumenate (“the time of learning or instruction.”) The length and nature of the Catechumenate may vary from person to person. During your exploration of the Christian faith and community you will be expected to participate in the Christian community’s life and worship both before and after Baptism.
What Happens During the Baptism Service?
You or your child's Baptism will take place during the Church’s main Sunday service which is called The Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is also known as the Mass, Holy Communion, The Divine Liturgy or the Lord‘s Supper. This is so that you or your child can be seen to be joining the community of the Church and to be welcomed into the “family” Do not worry! We will happily guide you through the service.
For the Baptism we gather around the Font. The Font is a large basin containing the water. Once everyone is gathered around the Font the priest will ask the Baptismal candidate or the parents and godparents of the child to declare their faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These vows are called the Baptismal Covenant.
Making Decisions and Promises-The Baptismal Covenant
At the Baptismal Covenant you will be asked to declare publicly (or on behalf of your child) that you believe in God and will follow Jesus in the Christian way of life.
For Christians God is understood and known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (The Holy Trinity).
God the Father-God is love, caring for creation and for every human being as God's beloved child.
God the Son, Jesus- God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. Jesus' life, work, teachings, death and resurrection hold the key to knowing God, and to making sense of life, before, during and after death.
God the Holy Spirit-God is alive, loving and active today, inspiring faith, justice and truth, sustaining the life of the world, giving spiritual gifts to the Church and whose presence is seen by changing lives and transforming society.
You will then be asked to:
- persevere in resisting evil
- forgive others, as God has forgiven us.
- seek and serve Christ in all people
- strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being
- strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth
The declarations made by the baptismal candidate (or by the parents and godparents on a child‘s behalf) will be made in the presence of the church congregation. The Christian community will promise to support you or your child as you begin this new life.
Symbols and Actions Used during Holy Baptism
Once you have declared your desire to enter the Church the Baptism uses very powerful symbols and actions:
The priest will pour water on you or your child’s head three times saying “I Baptise you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” This pouring of water is a symbol of being immersed under water and thus having a person’s whole life immersed with God.
- Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. It is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
- Water is a sign of life. All life lives, grows and flourishes by water. So too does our life when it is nourished by God’s Spirit.
- Water is a symbol of death and new life. When we are Baptized, it is as if our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we rise up out of the waters as a new person. By this action we share in Christ’s own death and resurrection to new life.
After Baptism, the priest will anoint or pour Chrism (Holy Oil) on the newly baptised. This is a sign of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit upon the person.
The Sign of the Cross
The anointing with holy oil is done in the shape of the cross on the forehead. This is like a badge to show that you are united with Christ, that you are his beloved friend and disciple and that you are called to bear his cross of love and self offering into our world. As the priest marks you with the Sign of the Cross he or she says “I sign you with the cross and mark you as Christ’s own forever.”
The Baptismal Flame
The ancient Church often referred to Baptism as “The Illumination” as the baptised have left darkness to be filled with the light of Christ. After being anointed you will be given a flame (candle) to symbolize that the Holy Spirit has come upon you and has filled you with the light of God. Your candle is lit from the large Pascal (“Easter”) Candle. The Pascal Candle symbolizes the light of the risen Jesus among us and Jesus as “the light of the world.” As you have been illumined by God it is now your job as a Christian to go out into the world to be the light of God to others. As you are given the Baptismal candle the priest will say to you “Receive the light of Christ, to show that you have passed from darkness to light.” The congregation then says to the newly Baptised “Let your light shine before others that they may see your goods works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The newly Baptised are welcomed into the community and then we share a sign of God’s peace among us. The community then prepares the “family meal” of the Eucharist where the newly baptised will receive Holy Communion as a full member of the Christian community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What's the difference between a Baptism and a Christening?
A. None, they are just different words for the same thing. Baptism comes from a Greek word meaning to be immersed or washed in water “Christening” is an Old English word that can be translated as “to be made one with Christ” or “to become Christ‘s”
Q. Can we have a “private” service of Baptism?
A. Generally the answer is no. Baptisms take place in the church's main service as Baptism is a public declaration that you or your child has become part of the Body of Christ. It is important that the church congregation is there to support you and welcome you or your child into the community of faith. However, pastoral needs will be taken into consideration in discussion with our parish priest.
Q. When do you have Baptisms?
A. During the main Sunday service at 10:00 am. Baptisms are usually scheduled on special days of celebration in the Church’s Calendar that emphasize what it means to be a follower of Jesus (for example, The Feast of Pentecost, Easter Eve or All Saints Day.)
Q. What is the right age for Baptism?
A. Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is the commitment to the Christian way of life. Although it is very common for people to be Baptised as infants, the Sacrament of Baptism should not be considered something only for newborns or children. Baptism should not be confused with naming ceremonies or other “rites of passage” in a child’s life. If you’re not sure about the Baptism for your child you might prefer to have a beautiful ceremony called The Thanksgiving Service for the Gift of a Child first and then consider Baptism when you have had time to explore it further.
Q. What is the role of Godparents?
A. Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptised as the parents do. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.
Godparents can be family members or friends. However, it is important that you choose people who will take an interest in your child's spiritual growth. Godparents must themselves be baptized. As an adult getting baptised you may wish to have a sponsor involved with the Baptismal rite. A sponsor is a Christian who has had a role in your spiritual development.
Q. I'm not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptised?
A. Yes. The Church believes that God's love is available to all, regardless where they are on the spiritual journey. As a parent you will be the prime teacher and example in nurturing your child in the Christian faith. At least one parent needs to be Baptised to have your child Baptised.
Q. I’m not baptised. Can I still join your church?
A. Of course! Everyone is welcome at St. Peters no matter where you have been or where you are going in your life or where you are on your spiritual path. We gather at St. Peter’s as a people:
- Who believe and who have doubts
- Who are looking for God and need to pray
- Who are in need of healing, wholeness and peace.
- Who are seeking for truth and richer meanings to life.
- Who are weary and need rest.
- Who are lonely and desire friendship
- Who are still figuring out how to follow Jesus Christ day by day as best we can.
- Who are called by Jesus to transform a society scarred by injustice and poverty.
Q. I wasn’t Baptised in the Anglican Church. Do I have to get re-baptised to join The Anglican Church of Canada?
A. No. There is only one Baptism in the Lord; as long as the church that you were baptised in was with water and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When some people join the Anglican Church from other denominations they may choose to mark their entering the Anglican tradition publicly with either The Rite of Confirmation or Reception. Talk to our parish priest about the details.
Q. Can I take photographs during the Baptism?
A. Please speak to the clergy for filming and photography during sacred events. Feel free to take photos or film within the church or its grounds at the end of the service.
Q. What does it cost?
A. There are no fees involved.
Adapted from the Church of England’s website by Dean Rose.
For more information about Holy Baptism, St. Peter’s Church or the Anglican Church, contact the church at: 905-728-8080.
Our website has many articles describing the Christian faith as lived out in the Anglican Tradition.