In the Anglican Church, people may be baptized as children or as adults, where it can be demonstrated there is faith in Jesus Christ present and agreement with the beliefs of the Church present along with the words spoken that convey the promises of God as revealed in the Holy Bible.
On this page you’ll find:
a) the meaning of baptism
b) baptism of infants
c) baptism of adults
d) links to baptism orders of service
a) The meaning of Baptism – According to the teaching of the Church, in the light of the Bible’s teachings Christian Baptism is an outward sign of an inner and spiritual work of God promised by Jesus Christ (called a Sacrament of the Gospel by the Church). Christian Baptism symbolizes two important promises in the Bible: i) “cleansing” from, or forgiveness of, sins, (this is the means of our reconciliation with God); and, ii) the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, God’s very presence (given to strengthen, to guide, and to assure those who believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Saviour God sent into the world).
i) Cleansing from our sins
None of us is perfect and the Bible declares that we all need God’s forgiveness – no-one is exempt. The Good News is that God has offered us free and unconditional forgiveness for our sins thanks to the costly sacrifice of the one God sent as our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us:
“…When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared [Jesus Christ], we were saved, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of God’s mercy.”
ii) Renewal through the gift of the Holy Spirit
The water of baptism also symbolised the pouring of the Holy Spirit into our lives by God. The passage above from the Bible continues saying:
“…God saves us [from our sins] through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom God poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been put right with God by God’s grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life.”
(You’ll find the above Bible texts in the New Testament Letter to Titus 3:4-7)
The Bible records an occasion when the Apostle Peter told a large crowd of religious pilgrims from many different nations that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, was in fact innocent of any charge, and more than this, was the one God had promised long ago to send into the world as Saviour and Lord. Shocked and ashamed that this had happened in their time, they asked Peter, “What, then, shall we do?” Peter replied to the crowd:
“Repent (that is, turn to God) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
(You can read the full speech and response in The Book of Acts, chapter 2 in the Holy Bible)
You can see, in the bold print above, the two key benefits promised to those who are baptized that we have explained so far on this page.
In addition, Baptism is an initiation into and the means of full inclusion into the life of God’s Church. No other qualifications or conditions are required to be part of what God has promised! Since the earliest days of the Christian Church (even Jesus himself was baptised) Baptism has accompanied people’s response of faith to Jesus and His message of God’s love for all people. Baptism has been, for more than two millennia, the common rite of initiation and inclusion into God’s Church. All that’s promised to believers in the Bible is believed to be granted to the baptised and they are encouraged to appropriate those promises more and more each day as they live out their baptism, with the help of God’s Spirit.
The water used in Christian Baptism is just plain drinking water, but it is set apart in the ceremony with prayer as the minister asks for it to be a sign – outward symbol – of what God alone can do inwardly and spiritually. That is, to cleanse our hearts and lives so that we are fully and freely forgiven of all that separates us from our Holy God, and to grant us the new life we need that makes us fit to live to God’s glory with the help of the gift of the Holy Spirit (the unseen presence of God that Jesus promised his followers would assures them of God’s love and guide them as they seek to follow Him).
In The Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus answered questions about how someone can know they are right with God. He said
“You must be born again”
This term has sometimes been misrepresented as some kind of “extra blessing”, but as Jesus explained in the Bible, to be included in what God promises through Christ we must all be…
“…born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit… the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
So, in baptism we are not merely stating beliefs or answering questions about the Bible. Instead, each candidate is appropriating the promises of God’s free gift of grace (unmerited love and mercy) associated with Baptism; they are entering into the promises of God that lead to spiritual transformation in their lives. They are also being joined with others who are members of God’s Church.
The beauty of baptism is that all people can clearly understand the meaning symbolised by the water – a universal symbol of cleansing and giving and sustaining life. Therefore, in Baptism, the promises of God are made easily accessible to all people. Jesus makes it clear that there is one, commonly accessible entry point into new life with God no matter a person’s condition of life. No matter your gender, status, ethnicity, education, background, religious experience, or any other qualification we may like to think as important, you can be Baptized and fully enter into God’s promises. The Apostle Paul explained that…
“…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast…”
(You can read the full text of Paul’s argument in The Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2 in the Bible)
In fact, the Gospels of the New Testament in our Bible shows time and time again Jesus spending time with social “outcasts”, with people who were poor, with those society deemed “not included” and inviting them to receive God’s grace and love. By most standards, they had nothing to bring to God to “earn” any favour or help. Jesus proved again and again that God’s loving offer is free, and for all. All that is asked of a person, then, is to decide how they regard Jesus Christ, and to put their faith in Him for what they need from God – nothing more. John’s Gospel records Jesus saying…
“I came so that they could have life – yes, and have it full to overflowing”
(You can read the full speech of Jesus in The Gospel of John, Chapter 10)
Through Jesus’ death for our sins upon the cross near Jerusalem long ago, the Bible teaches how God offered to all people the new start with God that they need. It was promised long ago and is now available to all through baptism and through a response of faith in Jesus Christ, who died for our sake, and was raised to new life as our hope.
Therefore, baptisms are usually conducted by fully immersing the candidates under water [with the pouring of water over them) to symbolize this new start. It’s how many Baptisms recorded in the Bible were conducted long ago. As the candidate rises from the water, the image of “dying” to self-centred living and rising to new life with the hope of the resurrection to eternal life because of Jesus Christ is made clear to all.
Baptism may be just the beginning of your journey of faith, but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will remain the foundation of your hope as you move forward with the promises of Baptism. Our lives as Christians are not promised to be made easier than that of other people – on the contrary, Christians are called to love others as Christ loved us. But the help of the Holy Spirit and the community of God’s people, the Church, are important comforts on the journey that promises, in the end, heavenly rewards.
b) The Service of Baptism for Infants – This service is for those families who regularly attend a church service where at least one parent or guardian professes the Christian faith according to the creeds of the Church and is also a baptized person. Because baptism represents and symbolizes initiation into all the promises of God to those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ it is a significant step to take on behalf of your infant.
Sometimes the baptism of a child will take place in a “Christening” ceremony, where a new-born is “named” and receives the blessing of the local church community and its family.
More often, baptism of a child or an adult will take place on a Sunday with the whole church community present during a regular worship service.
For a child that cannot yet answer for itself, faith and belief may be recognised as present in the parent or guardian who brings the child for baptism. In the case of an older child or adult, the confession of faith and belief will be made by the person being baptized. For those baptized as infants, it is expected that when such children are of an age to answer for themselves the questions of faith and belief, they may do so in a service of Confirmation (which means saying “yes” to the baptism vows made on their behalf) and receive the assurance and encouragement of the church community with the blessing of a bishop of the diocese.
For those parents or guardians not wanting to commit their infant to all that baptism represents at this point there is a first step that can be taken. Those wanting an opportunity for God’s blessing upon their child and to give thanks to God for same can ask for a Service of Thanksgiving & Blessing. In this ceremony, held in the church building, the family can formally give thanks to God for the birth of their child and can name their infant publicly with a gathering of friends and the local church congregation present.
Those asking for baptism for a child will be invited to express publicly their own commitment of faith in Jesus Christ, and also to commit to raising their child or children as a member of a Christian congregation. To help families discern the best course of action one of our ministers will offer to discuss the options and help to guide you. If baptism is decided upon, the minister will make further appointments to lead you through several sessions of conversation to gain a better understand of the commitment you will make on behalf of your child and the responsibilities that will follow.
c) The Baptism of Adult believers – Older children and adults may be Baptized (and may also be Confirmed). Some discover that they have “always believed” but were never baptized and may wish to do so. Others hear the Good News (“Gospel”) about Jesus for the first time and put their faith in God and may seek to respond publicly and gain the assurance and blessing that baptism offers.
In either case, the candidate will be asked to answer questions put by the Church that demonstrate an understanding and faith that aligns with the teachings of the Bible and is expressed in the authorized prayer books of the Church. Baptism is common in its promises in almost all Christian churches around the world, though its form and practice may vary slightly according to cultural and historical differences. Nevertheless, you are not baptised into a local church only, but will be baptized into the community of all believing Christians around the world and throughout history!
The usual practice is to be baptized by being fully immersed under water in a ceremony in which the promises of baptism accompany the confession of faith made by the candidate. But, in our cold climate and because of the limited facilities in most church buildings, a practical solution is offered in the form of a baptismal font. Therefore, the candidate may lean over the font and the pouring of water symbolizes the full “cleansing” from our sins and the “pouring” out of the Holy Spirit upon believers promised in the Bible – the two key things baptism offers as an assurance.
d) Download baptism orders of service
You can download a copy of our baptism information brochure here and to help you consider requesting a visit from a minister of the church.
You can preview a service of baptism for an infant here
You can preview a service of baptism for an adult here
Don’t hesitate to make contact with one of our ministers, or a minister at your local church and ask for more information about being baptized by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org