In Christianity, the sacrament of baptism is a ritual act of initiation; when we’re baptized, we become full members of our church community. As such, baptisms are conducted as part of our celebration of the Eucharist. Baptism is our response to a loving and graceful God; a God who seeks to be in relationship with us. We make promises to follow Jesus Christ, and in our prayers we invite the Holy Spirit to guide and shape our lives and our lives together as Christians.
Baptism is about identity and belonging. It’s also about making a commitment that will shape how we intend to live our life. When we’re baptized, we promise to respect ourselves and one another; to grow in our ability to live in harmony and peace with one another; and to ask for forgiveness and be forgiving in our relationships. In baptism, we acknowledge our responsibility to resist behaviours and forces that are damaging and destructive. We also commit ourselves to the work of transforming our society into a place that reflects the love and mercy that God in Christ has for our world. In our baptismal ministry, we share in God’s own mission and ministry of transformation, reconciliation, healing, and salvation.
In Anglican churches, it’s common to present infants and young children for baptism. Adults, teens, and older children may also seek baptism for themselves. When an infant or young child is presented for baptism, the child’s parents and sponsors (godparents) make the promises of baptism on behalf of the child. As such, it’s expected that parents and sponsors are themselves baptized. The parents and sponsors also promise to raise their child within the life of the church and the church community. Families come in all kinds of forms; sometimes the parents are of different religious traditions. Our priest can help guide you and amend the service to reflect your family life.
At St. Augustine’s, individuals who wish to be baptized or parents who wish to present their child for baptism should speak to our priest. Baptisms are generally celebrated on feast days in the church calendar. Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil or the Sunday after Easter; on the Day of Pentecost (late May/early June); on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday following (early November); and on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (early January). Baptisms may also be celebrated during the visit of a bishop, or on other Sundays, such as a day when family members living far away are able to attend.
Preparation for baptism includes a session (or class when numbers warrant) with our priest. During that session, we’ll look at the symbols of baptism, review the promises made in baptism, and discuss the details of the service. A rehearsal with the priest will take place shortly before the ceremony.
Sometimes, parents aren’t ready to make the promises of baptism, or they simply wish to thank God for the blessing of their child. They may choose to celebrate a related service, called Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. This service provides an opportunity for parents to give thanks for the birth or adoption of a child and to offer prayer for the life of the family. We pray together for God’s help as the family cares for and nurtures their child.
Sometimes, people who’ve already been baptized (particularly at a young age or in another tradition) ask to be baptized again. This isn’t done in Anglican churches, as we recognize the validity of infant baptism and Christian baptism in other church contexts. However, such people may consider Confirmation or Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. Please see our priest for more information on these rites.