Holy Baptism

Concerning the Service

Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.

Holy Baptism is appropriately administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast.

The bishop, when present, is the celebrant; and is expected to preach the Word and preside at Baptism and the Eucharist. At Baptism, the bishop officiates at the Presentation and Examination of the Candidates; says the Thanksgiving over the Water; [consecrates the Chrism;] reads the prayer, “Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit…” and officiates at what follows.

In the absence of a bishop, a priest is the celebrant and presides at the service. If a priest uses Chrism in signing the newly baptized, it must have been previously consecrated by the bishop.

Each candidate for Holy Baptism is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons.

Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants, commonly called godparents, present their candidates, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of their candidates.

It is fitting that parents be included among the godparents of their own children. Parents and godparents are to be instructed in the meaning of Baptism, in their duties to help the new Christians grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of his Church.

As the prayer book rubrics above state, Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. In this context, we believe Church to mean the Church Universal, not merely the Episcopal Church. One is not baptized into a denomination but into the Body of Christ. Baptism signifies membership in the local parish as well, and attendance at worship and contribution to the life of the church is expected.

Because Holy Baptism is an initiation into the Church, it is properly performed in the context of the Holy Eucharist on a Sunday or other day. Except in extreme emergencies, private Baptism is no longer performed at St. Peter’s. The four principal feasts for Holy Baptism are:

  • The Baptism of Our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany)
  • The Great Vigil of Easter
  • Pentecost (50 days after Easter)
  • All Saints Sunday (the first Sunday in November).

Other dates may be set aside for Baptism if needed.

Adults and older children are properly baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter. Infants may be baptized at any of the dates above. Candidates old enough to understand what they are doing are expected to meet with the Rector or Deacon for several sessions leading up to the service. Sponsors (or godparents) are expected to attend a class with the Rector or other appointed person to discuss the obligations of sponsorship and the meaning of Baptism, and to familiarize themselves with the service and their part in it.

An established parish family is usually paired with a new family here for Baptism. They serve as guides and to answer questions about parish life.

For more information on the Rite of Baptism, please speak with the Rector.