Baptism is a chance to celebrate what God is doing in the lives of individuals and in our church.
Baptism is an ancient ritual passed down to us from Jesus himself and is a significant event in the life of a Christ-follower. Baptism is:
- A public statement of a person’s belief in the good news of Jesus, and a commitment to shape his/her life around following him
- A symbolic experience of dying to the old self, being raised to new life in Christ and having all past, present and future sins washed away
- A type of initiation into the Christian faith as a whole, rather than one particular church or denomination
We believe that baptism should be experienced by anyone who makes a conscious decision to put their trust in Jesus and accept the basic tenants of the Christian message. It indicates the beginning of a life-long journey with Christ, and has nothing to do with having achieved a certain “level” of spirituality or having everything figured out. There is no age limit, as long as the person is able to understand and accept the message in a meaningful way (though, please note that requests for baptism of children need to originate with the child and not the parent). If someone has been baptized in a way that is meaningful to them in the past, there is no compelling reason to get re-baptized; however, we will re-baptize those who were Christened as infants or baptized without a clear understanding of its meaning.
We believe that baptism is largely symbolic, and that the act itself does not save a person. Rather, it symbolizes and demonstrates the saving work of God in your life. However, to say it is only a symbol or is somehow unimportant diminishes the fact that it was something clearly commanded by Jesus himself and practiced by Christians since the very first church. It is a sacred, joyful and spiritually significant event.
Why be baptized?
If a person has made a decision to follow Jesus, the primary reason to be baptized is out of obedience to Christ’s command that all of his future disciples experience this ritual. It is often a first concrete step of faith and submission in the life of a Christ-follower. We do not believe that it is a “ticket into heaven” or that it puts people into a different spiritual category. Rather, it is a simple but important act of obedience and a way to publicly state one’s growing commitment to Jesus (in the same way wedding vows make public and official the love that is already thriving). We believe this act honours God and allows our church community to celebrate an important milestone in the spiritual journey. It is also a very concrete and memorable experience that carries meaning for the person being baptized for the rest of his/her life.
The meaning of baptism
The symbolism of baptism is two-fold. First, its roots in Jewish ceremonial washing point toward an inner “cleansing,” in which the mistakes, failures, sins and regrets of a person are washed away by God’s mercy and grace (as a result of Jesus’ death on our behalf). Second, it indicates the “rebirth” Jesus referred to in John 3:1-8. Being buried beneath the water indicates dying to the old self that was enslaved to human nature, selfishness and sin; and coming out of the water indicates the new life, peace, joy and direction that God offers us by his Spirit.
About our baptism services
We plan baptism services as often as needed throughout the year. Our baptism services are relaxed, celebratory and relatively informal. They generally include music to celebrate God’s goodness and a brief explanation of the significance of the day. They are often followed by a joyful celebration and meal to share together and celebrate God’s work in our lives. Friends and family of those being baptized are invited to join the service and celebration.
During the baptism service, those being baptized will be asked as a group to answer (in the affirmative) the following questions as a public profession of their faith and an affirmation that they understand the basic tenants of Christianity:
- Do you believe that on your own you stand guilty before God, unable to live up to his standards, and in need of his forgiveness and help?
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that his death and resurrection provide for you forgiveness, new life and reconciliation with God?
- Do you commit to follow Jesus personally in a growing relationship for the rest of your life, led by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Holy Bible?
Those being baptized will enter the water one at a time. Because God uses many people in bringing about this inner work, we welcome spiritually significant friends and family members to be in the water with those who are being baptized. Attire is modest, generally a bathing suit with a T-Shirt. During the baptism, each person will also be given an opportunity to share a part of their spiritual journey, thank God for what he is doing in their life, or share what the experience means to them. We encourage but do not require this. After that they will kneel in the water and be baptized three times by leaning forward, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, followed by prayer. Those entering the water should bring a towel and change of clothing.
For further reading
Below are listed a few passages that deal with the meaning of baptism and its significance in the early church communities:
- Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist: Matthew 3
- Jesus institutes baptism as the sign of becoming his disciple: Matthew 28:16-20
- The first Christians are baptized after Peter proclaims the message of Jesus: Acts 2:36-41
- People are baptized immediately on believing the message: Acts 8:26-40; 9:1-19; 16:11-34; 18:8
- Paul reflects on baptism as symbolic of death and new life: Romans 6:3-11, Colossians 2:12-15
If you wish to be baptized, contact Pastor Jeremy McClung..