The United Church recognizes both infant and adult baptism. In addition, as part of the wider Christian community, baptisms that take place in a United Church of Christ congregation are recognized by other Christian traditions, including Catholic. A person is not baptized “UCC” or “Lutheran” or “Catholic.” We are baptized into the whole Christian church. As Paul the apostle wrote, “…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” (Ephesians 4:5).
THE BAPTISM OF AN INFANT OR CHILD:
When parents bring a child, infant or older for baptism, they are doing a number of things. One thing which they are not doing is “fixing” the child so that she or he is somehow “right” with God by “washing away original sin.” All children are loved into life and created in the image of God – just as they are.
So what is the purpose of infant or child baptism? It is:
- a time for the parents, family and faith-community to give thanks for the life of the child.
- an acknowledgment on the part of the parents that the child is a gift from God – created by God, loved by God and claimed by God.
- an acknowledgment by the parents that they need God’s help and the support of the community of faith, both in their own journeys of life and faith, and also in helping their child grow in his or her life and faith.
- a time of promise-making on the part of the parents to lead lives of faith and also to offer the nurture of the faith community to the child.
- a time when parents make promises on behalf of the child that the child will be invited to affirm at the time of Confirmation and Initiation to Adulthood (usually in middle school or early high school).
- a time of promise-making by the congregation to support the parents and the child, and to reaffirm their commitment to all God’s children, old and young and in-between.
BAPTISM OF A YOUTH OR ADULT:
When a person comes for baptism on their own, they make the same promises a parent makes for a child. They affirm their desire to be baptized and to live into the new life that God offers. They promise to grow in their own faith, to participate in the life of the faith-community, and to be the disciple of grace, love and justice that God calls them to be.
If you are interested in baptism – either for yourself or your child – please contact Rev. Talitha Arnold for further information (505-988-3295; firstname.lastname@example.org).