Baptism is one of the two sacraments recognized by the United Church of Christ, the other being The Lord’s Supper. A sacrament can be defined as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” It is a public symbol and act which reminds us that God reaches out to us in love.
What Is Baptism?
Baptism is a joyous celebration of new birth, God’s free and undeserved gift, and the visible recognition of becoming a member of the Christian church. In the baptismal ceremony, which usually takes place before the congregation, a person becomes a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and is accepted into the church family, the community of faith. Baptism signifies that God has given us the gifts necessary for a meaningful life.
Planning for a Baptism
The request for baptism may be made through one of the pastors or the church office. Sufficient time should be allowed for counseling and preparation. The office will need the following information for the baptismal certificate and the church records: full name, birth date and place, full names of parents, including the mother’s maiden name, since a baptismal certificate can serve as a legal document.
When you seek baptism, the church and pastors are responsible for preparing you for this sacrament so you can understand its meaning. If you are a parent seeking baptism for your child, you should understand its meaning for the child and your own responsibility toward your child and the church. This includes providing a Christian atmosphere of teaching, example and prayer in your home, taking your child to church as soon as he or she is able to be placed in one of the church school classes, and participating in the life of the church in order that you, too, can grow as a responsible Christian parent. One of the parents or sponsors should be a member in good standing of The First Congregational Church of Greenwich.
At What Age?
Children may be baptized at any time the parents desire; however, it is customary that it be done in the first few months after the baby is born. There is a special service of baptism at our church which takes place a few days before confirmation, for young people who were not baptized as infants. Indeed, baptism may occur at any time of life.
Ideally, baptisms take place in the Meetinghouse during regular worship services, with the exception of the first Sunday of the month. Our church suggests that the festival seasons of the year seem to be the most appropriate times for this celebration. Since baptism means that the child or adult is being received into the household of God, baptism during the service establishes a mutual bond between the congregation and the individual. In the case of infants, it offers the congregation an opportunity to share in the joy of the family on the occasion of the birth of their child.
Any baptism which, because of unusual circumstances, is not held during a regular service, should include a representative of the congregation (usually the Senior Deacon).
You have a church full of them! Our church is the true sponsor of every person who is baptized. It is our congregation and the whole Christian church that assists you in the Christian life of your children.
Sometimes parents will choose special people to stand with them as godparents. While this is not necessary, it can have meaning for the family. These persons, by their close friendship or family ties, represent one of the specific ways by which the congregation fulfills its pledge. However, their presence in no way nullifies the church’s office of sponsorship.
If you choose to have individual sponsors or godparents, they, too, should be instructed in the meaning of baptism so they will fully understand their responsibility.
For further information or to schedule a baptism, please call our Administrative Assistant at (203) 637-1791 ext. 814.