Questions and answers: Baptism
If you are considering baptism for yourself or your child within our faith community, we hope that the following answers to frequently asked questions about baptismal practices at Harcourt will be helpful to you.
What is baptism?
Baptism is an ancient ritual, a symbolic action using water that signifies the new life God gives us as we join the wider church community. Baptism celebrates God’s initiative and our response. It is God’s “Yes” to us and our “Yes” to God. For us, the sacrament (a sacred, special act that we understand points to God’s presence with us) of baptism is an act of welcome and belonging. It is the outward sign of something we believe has existed from the very beginning – the love, welcome and acceptance of God for each person, just as they are. It also is a symbol of the journey we make, and are constantly making, for the life we have…to the life we are entering, a journey of learning and growth from limitation to freedom. It is a journey made with the support of community.
What happens at the baptism?
As parents or guardians seeking baptism for your child, you will be asked a question about your faith that also is a promise made on your child’s behalf. The gathered congregation is asked a question as well, out of which they indicate their support and willingness to journey with you as you raise your child. The child is baptized using a small amount of water and marked with the sign of the cross. Further details about the meaning of baptism and the service are talked about during the mandatory preparation session for parents/guardians, typically held on a Thursday evening a week or two prior to the baptism itself.
Does my child have to be a baby to be baptized?
No – we offer baptism to all ages. We believe the gift of God’s love doesn’t depend on our ability to understand it, so we baptize people as infants right up through adulthood.
Does my child have to be baptized in order to be welcome at Harcourt?
No. Baptism is not a requirement for God’s love or for acceptance as part of our faith community. We do not believe that people who have not been baptized are in any way marginalized, lost or condemned.
What dates are available for my child’s baptism?
Baptisms at Harcourt take place during Sunday worship at various times throughout the year. Dates for baptisms are set by our ministers and the Worship Committee in response to families/individuals who have requested baptism.
Do I have to be a member of Harcourt in order to have my child baptized?
Baptism is not simply an event. It is a relationship. Typically at least one of the parents will have been baptized earlier in their life. Out of that experience with the Christian story and community, they now seek a similar, though contemporary experience and relationship for their child. It is our hope, therefore, that at least one of the parents will be engaged in our common life or will be in the process of exploring the possibility of making Harcourt their church home. Our principal conviction is that parents are the prime spiritual mentors of their children and that the church community exists to support them as best it can in their work throughout their life.
Can special individuals be named as Godparents?
The traditional role of godparents is one now taken on by the whole congregation, in the promises they make to you as parents. However, if there is a special family member or friend who is especially supportive of you and your child, we will invite them to stand with you at your child’s at baptism and a question will be asked of them, indicating the special place they have in your life and in the life of your child.
How can I arrange for a baptism?
We invite you to come and worship with us so that you can get to know us and we can get to know you. Please introduce yourself to one of our ministers. They would love to meet you and learn of your interest in baptism for yourself or your child. After that, we will arrange for you to receive a baptismal information package from our office, which includes a request for baptism