What is baptism? At what age do you baptize?
Baptism is the use of water to make a statement about God’s relationship to humankind. It is symbolic, but more than that, it’s sacramental – we believe there is something special happening here.
In the United Methodist Church, we baptize infants as a way of expressing one of our fundamental beliefs about God: our Creator wants a relationship with us before we ever even know it. In the sacrament, the water becomes the outward sign of the inward gift of God’s grace, love and forgiveness. Through the vows taken by parents, godparents and the church, we affirm the responsibilities all of us have for raising our children in a supportive community of faith. (Of course, we don’t ONLY baptize infants – you can be baptized at any age!)
Baptism is the start of a lifelong journey, and our congregation offers many opportunities for you and your children to grow in faith together: Sunday School, youth groups, music programs, small group studies, service projects and more. We are happy to connect with your family during this time of deepening faith and gratitude for new life.
What is confirmation?
Our confirmation program for 8th graders is designed to help children confirm the faith vows their parents took for them when they were infants. This is a year-long process that teaches the basics of the faith and principles of discipleship and opens up conversations about hard faith questions. Our hope is that at the end of the journey, our young people will choose to affirm their faith in Jesus and become full members of the church. If parents choose NOT to have their child baptized as an infant, then the young person is baptized as part of the confirmation service.
I was baptized in another Christian denomination. Do I need to be baptized again?
No. In the UMC, we believe that baptism is a once-and-for-all event that belongs to Jesus, not any particular denomination. So you don’t have to be “baptized Methodist.” Baptism is baptism.
Sometimes people will ask – maybe if they’ve been away from the church or when something significant has happened in their lives – if they can be re-baptized. We don’t re-baptize, but we what we can do is re-affirm your baptism. Please feel free to talk with one of the pastors.
I am an adult and I’ve never been baptized. How can I be baptized?
Baptism is a huge milestone on the journey of faith. For adults, its meaning takes on new dimensions. Adults are baptized in response to what Jesus has already been doing in their lives, and we can talk about forgiveness of sins and entering into a brand new life in a way that don’t make as much sense when we’re thinking about infants and children.
In the UMC, you are always baptized into something. That means baptism for adults always goes hand in hand with joining the church. To start the process, talk with one of the pastors. We’ll help to answer your faith questions and understand what it means to be part of Medford UMC. We can do baptism by any means you prefer – our standard way would be during a regular Sunday worship service, either by sprinkling or pouring water over your head. But there’s nothing that prevents us from baptizing by immersion if you prefer – just ask!
How do I have my child baptized at Medford United Methodist Church?
We know that baptism is frequently a family’s first connection to our community of faith. As you consider baptism for your child, it’s important to us that you understand this as just a first step in a deepening relationship with Christ and the church. This is how we encourage families to think through this important decision.
- Faith Commitment: Consider your own faith commitment. In our liturgy, parents vow to raise their children in faith among the people of this congregation. The congregation in return promises to help the parents do that. We take these vows seriously and know you do too. For this reason, at least one parent or godparent needs to be a baptized, practicing Christian. Think about this when you are choosing your godparents/sponsors. Make your choice based on who you believe will provide the best example of a living faith. You do not have to choose a godfather and godmother – you may only have one godparent, or two godmothers, two godfathers – or any number you choose.
- Visit: If you have not already attended worship here, we invite you to come out to worship for a period of several weeks to see if this is the kind of church community where you can feel comfortable bringing up your child. While here, introduce yourself to either one of the pastors. You can find more information on worship <link to: worship page> here.
- Connect: After you have visited with us in worship and introduced yourself to a pastor, call us at the church office or email us to arrange for one of the pastors to visit at your home or at the church office. During that informal meeting, we’ll get to know your family, review the baptismal vows, answer your questions, and help map out a plan for you to grow in your involvement with our congregation. A date for your baptism will be set for a Sunday morning during one of the <link to: worship services> (we try to avoid the first Sunday of the month). There is never a “charge” for the sacrament of baptism.
This Is Your Baptismal Liturgy (a guide to understanding our beliefs on baptism)
Pastor Joe’s Letter to Godparents