The Sacrament of Baptism
The Beginning of a Journey of Faith
At Heritage United Church we believe that baptism is an invitation to become part of the community of faith. In the case of The United Church of Canada, an individual adult or infant becomes a member of the congregation to which they are baptized. Upon confirmation the individual becomes a full member, with all rights and privileges of membership both with the congregation into which they are confirmed and within The United Church of Canada.
We believe that baptism is a gift of God through which promises are made by those being baptized, their families, their friends, and the whole congregation. It is the beginning of a faith journey.
We believe that baptism involves Christian commitment. It is the first step in a lifelong journey that needs companions. As such, it should take place in a church community where individuals feel comfortable pursuing their faith. It is here where people will support you, nurture you, pray for you, and give you the courage to follow Jesus.
We believe that a service of baptism is a sacrament and an important religious ceremony. Our congregation believes that parents who have children baptized or adults choosing for themselves this ceremony, are acknowledging that each is a gift from God.
We believe that the promises made at the service are central to baptism. In these promises parents, family and the entire congregation pledge their support and prayers. Our belief is that these promises made at baptism represent both an act of faith and a serious covenant with lifelong intention.
We believe that the Sacrament of Baptism with water in the Triune Name of God is the visible sign and seal of the covenant love of God, of incorporation into Christ and of entry into membership in the Christian Church.
What is Required of Me?
It’s simple! The first step is to contact the Church office and arrange to meet with our Minister. The Minister will then arrange to meet with you to discuss the nature of Baptism and the practice of Baptism in our Church. There are no formal classes or attendance demands. The one requirement is the face to face meeting with the Minister.
The decision to share faith with our children or nurture our own faith, is as natural as wanting the best food, health care or educational opportunities. The promises of Baptism are based on the assumption that we want to share with our children the faith in God which is so important to us.
What About God-Parents?
In The United Church of Canada, every member of the congregation becomes your child’s God-Parent. This is in fact what we promise when children are baptized -
….to receive this child in Christ’s name, even as we were once received, and to support him/her with constant love, wholesome example, Christian teaching and faithful prayer.
As well, you may choose to establish a special relationship with others who will have particular responsibility for your child. If so, we encourage you to have them stand with you during the Service.
What About a Private Service?
Since Baptism is about a relationship with the community of faith, the Service of Baptism normally occurs during a regular Sunday morning service where the whole congregation can participate. In some extraordinary cases, arrangements may be made for Services of Baptism to be held at another time and/or place. In such cases, member of the church’s Council will be present to represent the congregation.
What if I Don’t Live in Toronto?
We realize that sometimes, parents wish to have the Service of Baptism in our Church where grandparents and others may attend. In such a case, the people of our congregation act as representatives of the congregation which will be the church family of the child. During the service, the minister will announce the name of the congregation for which the Baptism is being celebrated.
What happens on Baptism Sunday?
The Sacrament of Baptism is introduced as part of the regular worship service. Once the meaning of the Sacrament is shared, those wishing Baptism are asked to stand. The Congregation then stands and together, Congregation and those who have come for Baptism share in the following Profession of Faith (modeled on The New Creed, of the United Church of Canada).
Profession of Faith
Minister: Do you believe in God and in God's love?
People: We are not alone.
We live in God's world
We believe in God,
who has created and is creating.
Minister: Do you believe that God is known to us
in Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died and lives again?
People: We believe in God who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others by the Spirit.
Minister: Do you believe that God, by the Spirit,
is active in the world to direct and to strengthen you?
People: We trust in God.
We are called to be the church,
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
ALL: In life, in death, in life beyond death
God is with us. We are not alone.
ALLELUIA! Thanks be to God.
The Water is blessed and those wishing to be baptized come forward to have watered daubed or poured on their heads. All who wish to be Baptized are Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and formally welcomed into the Church Community.
After all of that, what happens next?
That is entirely up to you. In the community and with the help of our Church you will be invited to grow in faith, to seek the comfort and challenge of being a Christian.
In the case of a child being Baptized, the child will be invited to participate in
Confirmation when he or she has reached the appropriate age to take personal responsibility for his/her Baptism and become an adult member of our Church.