Baptism – a ritual of belonging!

Baptism is a symbolic ritual designed to open us to new life in God within a church community. This sacrament serves as an initiation into the Christian faith, a first step taken in one’s personal journey of faith. It is offered to all people of all ages, all family configurations, gender and gender identities without condition. As we believe the gift of God’s love doesn’t depend on our ability to understand it, we baptize people as infants and adults.  Baptism in the United Church of Canada is recognized by all denominations of the Christian church that practice infant baptism. Similarly, if people have already been baptized in another church, the United Church recognizes their baptism.

What does baptism look like at Britannia United Church?

In the United Church we practice 2 sacraments:  Baptism and Communion.  As Jesus was baptized with water and water has long been recognized as a symbol of life, renewal, and connection, water continues to play a significant role in the ritual.  Within the context of our regular Sunday worship service, with prayer and intentionality, warm water is poured into our baptismal font by either our minister, an older sibling or loved one of the person to be baptized.  Our minister then sprinkles water onto the head of the person being baptized in the name of the Creator, Source of Life and Love; Jesus, teacher and friend and the Spirit who works in us and others.  The baptized person is introduced to the congregation as a “sibling” and fellow traveler in faith, presented with a certificate and a candle as visible reminder of the spark of the Divine within them. The ritual, while not complex, is significant for everyone involved.

With an infant, it is not required that parents become members of the congregation, however, parents and the congregation are required to make promises to support the child’s spiritual growth and development. In order for these vows to be meaningful, we strongly advise families to get to know us first.

While it is not required, some families choose to name godparents for their children.  In addition to or in place of godparents, the whole congregation is invited to commit themselves to growing in faith, hope and love with the baptized person.

In the case of adult baptisms, our ministers will work with you to create a meaningful ritual that reflects your spiritual journey.

So what do I do if I want to celebrate baptism at Britannia United Church?

First, attend worship so that you know who we are and how we work in the world. We are committed to making a difference in the larger community and in the world by living and sharing the love of God in the radically inclusive Way of Jesus. Do our dreams and core values align with your needs and hopes?  If it’s an infant / child baptism that you’re wanting, visit our nursery and Children’s Program too. Can you imagine your family participating in what BUC offers?

These days, families and individuals are pulled in so many directions. BUC appreciates that participation in our community’s life will vary according to schedules, etc. It is your intention that is most important to us.  Come as you are, whenever you can – you will always be welcome!

If you think you or your family would like to be part of our journey of faith,  contact our ministers or the church office.  They will make all the necessary arrangements and guide you further in the process.

“I’m uncomfortable making baptismal vows at this time, but I really want to acknowledge God’s presence in the life of my child and my family. How can I do that?”

Consider an Infant Service of Blessing instead. It can be done as part of a regular service or outside of our Sanctuary in the presence of gathered friends and family only. Your child will be named and blessed by our minister, and gratitude for the birth of this child as a gift from God will be expressed. If you’d like more information about this special service, please contact one of our ministers.

“If I don’t baptize my child, will something happen to my child’s soul?”

Baptism is not a requirement for God’s love. The United Church of Canada believes people who die without baptism are not condemned, lost, or damned. God’s love for us is a reality from the moment we are born; baptism is an acknowledgement and celebration of that reality.