What do Presbyterians believe about baptism?

Lake Grove Presbyterian, like all Presbyterian churches, celebrates two sacraments: Baptism and Communion (or the Lord's Supper). Baptism is the sacrament that marks our entry into a new life in Jesus Christ, and our belonging to the family of faith. Communion is  the sacrament that nourishes us along the journey as we follow Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we baptize because Jesus told us to do so. After His death and resurrection Jesus gave His followers this commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19)

Jesus Himself was baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17). And from the first days of the Christian Church until now, the invitation to all who want to belong to Christ is just as Peter first proclaimed it: "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

Paul tells us that in baptism we participate in Jesus' death and resurrection. In baptism, we die to what separates us from God, and are raised to newness of life in Christ (see Romans 6:1-4). Baptism reminds us of God's grace and faithfulness, the washing away of sin and our rebirth, being sealed by God's Spirit and adopted into the family of faith, resurrection and new life in Christ.

There is one body of believers and one baptism (see Ephesians 4:4-6). The Presbyterian Church (USA) recognizes all baptisms with water administered by other Christian churches. Baptism is received only once, and there is no need to be "re-baptized" in a Presbyterian Church.

Who may be baptized?

Baptism is available to adult believers and to their children. When we baptize younger children we are reminded of the truth that God's love claims us before we are able to respond in faith. The baptism of older children and adults upon their own profession of faith reminds us of the truth that God's grace is a free gift that calls for our personal response.

Adults and older children are usually baptized at the time when they respond to God's grace in Jesus Christ, make their own profession of faith, or are received as active members of the congregation. We encourage children of believers to be baptized without delay, while respecting the wish of some parents to delay their children's baptism until the child is older.

When a child is presented for baptism, ordinarily the parent(s) or one(s) rightly exercising parental responsibility shall be an active member of this congregation (though the child of a Christian parent who is an active member of another congregation may also be considered for baptism).

What happens in the service of baptism?

Baptism involves the entire church, and so it is celebrated (except for extraordinary circumstances) in a service of corporate worship. Persons to be baptized come to the front of the church and are presented, along with their immediate family members (if desired). A church officer will also come forward to assist with the baptism.

Those receiving baptism profess their belief in God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and promise to follow Christ as active disciples. Those presenting children for baptism make the same profession of faith, and promise to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord toward the end that the children will one day confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. The congregation (and sponsors, if desired) promise to stand by those being baptized and to assist them to be faithful disciples.

After prayer is made, the pastor sprinkles or pours water on the head of the one being baptized (or, in some cases, immerses the person in water). Then the pastor pronounces a blessing, and introduces the newly baptized to the congregation. Prayer is then offered on behalf of the baptized person, families, and congregation.

While family members are welcome to video tape the baptism service, we request no flash photographs be taken during the service. The pastor will be available following the service to take photos with the family.

When are baptisms scheduled?

Each year the Session of Lake Grove Presbyterian Church approves specific Sundays to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism. Generally baptisms are held on the second Sunday of the month (unless this date falls on a holiday). During the months of May and June we celebrate baptism on Mother's Day and on Father's Day. Call the church to confirm the date before making any plans. Dates are subject to change without notice.

You may request any of our pastors to administer the Sacrament of Baptism. An appointment will be made to discuss the meaning of baptism with the pastor and to make any necessary arrangements.

What about the certificate of baptism?

A certificate of baptism is prepared for each person receiving baptism, and presented during the service. The baptism is recorded in the official minutes of the Session of Lake Grove Presbyterian Church. This data in our permanent record ensures that the certificate is legally correct to serve as a source of proof of identity.

To schedule a baptism, please contact Debra Popejoy.