Baptism + Births
Baptism is a sacrament.
As a United Methodist Church, we practice the sacrament of infant baptism. Though it is most frequently done between one and six months, baptism can be performed at any age.
The word sacrament comes from the Latin word for vow or promise and the Greek word for mystery. Sacraments are ritual practices that connect us to the mystery of God’s love and grace and call us to respond in faith.
While there are many ways of opening to the love and grace of God, United Methodists recognize two rituals as sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. These are the only two practices that Jesus specifically commands in the Gospels (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 22:14-21). Baptism is our welcome to the family of Christ; Holy Communion sustains and nourishes us on our journey of faith.
Frequently Asked Questions About Baptism
What happens when we are baptized?
In baptism, we acknowledge and celebrate the grace of God, freely offered to us before we were even aware of it. We confess our sin, accept membership in the family of Christ, and vow to trust in and serve Jesus Christ as our Lord.
Baptism is the outward and visible sign of our covenant (holy agreement) with God to accept God’s gifts of freedom and power and to grow in faith through the constant efforts of the Holy Spirit and the lifelong practice of prayer, study, service, witness, and worship.
In the United Methodist Church, baptism is a communal celebration; the congregation vows to nurture and support those being baptized – adults or infants. These United Methodist services are called Baptismal Covenants, in recognition of the sacred nature of our holy agreements with God as individuals and as a community of faith.
Why and how is water used at baptism?
Water cleanses, purifies, and washes away sin. It is necessary for all life as a source of nourishment, and it signifies a lifelong process of growth toward God. An immersion baptism signifies death to the old way of life (in the lowering into the water) and being raised to a new life (in the being raised up out of the water). The use of water reminds us to be grateful for all that God has already done for us – through water. All of this meaning is indicated in the traditional Thanksgiving Over the Water prayer.
Sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all acceptable uses of water for baptism in The United Methodist Church. Whatever method is used, baptism is made in the name of “The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” – the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of our life and faith.
Then representatives of the community of faith – the pastor along with parents, sponsors, or congregational leaders – lay hands on the baptized person’s head and offer this powerful blessing and call to action: “The Holy Spirit work within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ”.
(from The United Methodist Hymnal, The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989).
At what age should someone be baptized?
In the United Methodist Church, as in many other Christian traditions, baptism may occur at any age. The practice of infant baptism is supported by biblical authority (Acts 2:38-39; 16:15, 33). We enter this world as imperfect beings in need of salvation; that is, we need to be freed from our imperfection by God’s love and power. When infants are presented for baptism, parents, sponsors, and the entire community of faith pledge to surround the children with Christian nurturing and teaching as the children prepare to profess and confirm their faith for themselves (often as young teens in a service called Confirmation). Young people and adults who have never been baptized and who wish to join the family of faith and the United Methodist Church may profess their faith, receive instruction in the beliefs and traditions of the United Methodist Church, and be baptized into membership.
How do christening and dedication compare with baptism?
The term christening has sometimes been understood as a ritual for naming a child, but it is the same service as baptism. While the child’s name is spoken in the Baptismal Covenant service, the focus is on the work and power of God’s love. A service of dedication is the action a family takes on behalf of a child. It is not practiced in The United Methodist Church. Baptism is a celebration and acknowledgment of the loving action God has already taken and continues to take on behalf of all creation.
Can I (or should I) be re-baptized?
Baptism is recognition of God’s gracious love already at work in our lives. God’s grace endures, and God’s promises are never broken. The United Methodist Church recognizes any Trinitarian Christian baptism.
We sometimes fail to keep our promises to God and need to renew the commitment made at our baptism. The United Methodist Church offers opportunities for reaffirmation of baptismal vows at significant crossroads of individual lives and the life of the church. At BUMC, this happens at Confirmation and each January on Baptism of our Lord Sunday. At these services, we renew our vows of love and service and are encouraged to remember our baptism and be thankful.
Does baptism mean that I am saved?
No, salvation is a lifelong process during which we must continue to respond to God’s grace. Baptism offers the promise that the Holy Spirit will always be working in our lives, but salvation requires our acceptance of that grace, trust in Christ, and ongoing growth in holiness as long as we live.
When or how can I or my child be baptized?
Baptisms are not scheduled on Communion Sundays (the first Sunday of each month) or on High Holy Days.
Before a child can be baptized at BUMC, parents must attend a Baptism Conference with a pastor. These are held once a month on Sunday mornings, and parents only need to attend once before the first baptism in their family.
To schedule a baptism, contact Rosanne Schenck.
Baptism is one of our foundational milestones for a life of faith.
Stage of Faith: Blessed By God
Baptism is a foundational milestone for a life of faith
4-Year-Old Bible Presentation
Stage of Faith: Discovering God's Love
Celebrate this day with our PreK-4 year olds in worship as they receive their first Bible from BUMC Kids
Stage of Faith: Worshipping God Together
An evening event for children and their parents to explore how and why we worship
3rd Grade Bible Presentation
Stage of Faith: Connecting with God's Word
Celebrate this day with our 3rd graders in worship as they receive a more mature Bible to continue to study God's word
Stage of Faith: Affirming Faith in God
A two day retreat for our 5th graders to experience and encounter God to affirm that they are truly a Child of God.
Confirmation is in partnership with baptism.
Student Ministry offers Confirmation as a semester-long program to 6th graders each Fall, during which they learn about what it means to live out their baptisms. They learn the history of the church and study the Bible, attend worship weekly, and engage in service to God’s people and the church. At the end, they are invited to claim their faith publicly by joining the church as a full, professing member. And if they were not baptized as infants, they will be baptized prior to being confirmed. We also offer Confirmation classes for older students and adults throughout the year.
Other helpful contacts:
- Pastoral Care
To schedule a pastoral care appointment with one of our pastors, please fill out our pastoral care request form.
- Rosebuds & Baby Blankets
Births and adoptions of members are listed in our worship service bulletins and rosebuds are placed on the baptismal font in honor of newborn children. Newborn and newly adopted children receive a handmade blanket from BUMC Kids handmade by our Prayer Shawl Ministry, as well as the rosebud placed on the font in their honor and a copy of the worship bulletin listing their name. Contact our Caring Ministry to notify us of a recent birth or adoption so we can honor your family in upcoming worship services.