In the United Church of Canada baptism is offered for people of all ages, infants through adults. We believe that Baptism is both a celebration of God’s gift of love already present in everyone, and a commitment to the lifelong journey of faith
At. St. Andrew’s Wesley, where our mission is “Empowered by Christ we are called to embody love so lives are changed and the world transformed,” we believe in supporting individuals, children and families in celebrating baptism as a way of life not just as a life event. However, you don’t need to be baptized to participate in the St. Andrew’s Wesley Church.
In baptism we symbolize and celebrate the grace and love of God for a particular individual and, at the same time, for all people of every age, baptized or not. The act of baptism does not confer that love. It acknowledges God’s love in a sacramental celebration. All who make promises of baptism, such as parents and congregation, renew their commitment to that love and its expression in their lives. It is a public declaration of your intention for you or your child to explore a spiritual path and receive the support of St. Andrew’s Wesley in your Christian formation.
Whatever the age of the child, whatever the denomination of the parents, we welcome the opportunity to bring children into our faith community and provide support for parents seeking to raise their children in a spiritual environment. In the United Church baptism is an initiation into the church and into a particular community of faith. Therefore, we require that at least one parent is an active participant in the life of the congregation.
Read more below about preparation for baptism and questions you will be asked at the baptism, as well as our FAQ’s.
If you haven’t already, come and join us for worship. Come and see if this community of faith is a place where you and your family feel comfortable and find belonging. Is this a place where you and your family might grow in faith together in community? As shared above, the congregation makes promises to the family and it is important that there is an opportunity for the family and congregation to build relationship.
After deciding that this is a place where you and your family feel called, it is then when you will set an appointment to meet with the Minister. We will then have an educational gathering about Baptism, which will sometimes be with other families. At this gathering we will discuss the meaning of baptism, the mission and vision of St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, the meaning of the vows you will make during the baptism and the ways that the congregation is promising to support your family.
If you have questions or would like to speak more about your child’s baptism, please contact Minister with Children and Families, Jen Cunnings or adult baptism and membership, please contact Minister of Congregational Life, Dan Chambers.
Questions you will be asked at the baptism:
- Do you believe in God, Who has created and is creating, Who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, To reconcile and make new, Who works in us and others by the Spirit?
- Will you celebrate God’s presence, Live with respect with creation, Love and serve others, Seek justice and resist evil?
- Will you remain open to God’s abundant and endless grace, through prayer, study, worship, and your presence in Christian community?
- Do you promise to participate in the life of the family of God’s people, sharing in the mission and ministry of the Church, as it serves the world?
The above questions are asked in the presence of the congregation, who themselves are asked:
- Do you, the people of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church receive this child into the Church, promise your love, support and care to him/her and his/her family as they live and grow in Christ?
Baptism is a significant commitment in the life of faith, on part of the individual and on part of the parents and the community of faith. As a congregation we commit to supporting one another and families on this profound journey of growing, deepening and living our faith. We remember that . . . God is with us, We are not alone, Thanks be to God!
If you have questions or would like to speak more about your child’s baptism please contact Minister with Children and Families, Jen Cunnings. For adult baptism and membership, please contact Minister of Congregational Life, Dan Chambers.
- There are many popular understandings of the meaning of baptism that do not reflect our understanding of what is happening at baptism. For example, the following are three understandings of baptism which we think seriously limit the deeper meaning of the sacrament:
- Some think that the soul of an unbaptized baby will end up in limbo or purgatory. We don’t believe this. We do believe that all babies are blessed, known and loved by God whether or not they are baptized.
- Some want to baptize their babies so that they will be “exposed” to religion, and then later in life be able to make their minds up for themselves. Scientific research shows that children model their parent’s attitudes and behaviours. If they see and hear their parents praying, sharing the stories of faith, engaging in service and participating in a church community, then they will learn to value this experience for themselves. The only way to expose your children to faith and religion is to model the spiritual path.
- Finally, for many baptism is a way of carrying on a family tradition. This is a family tradition we want to support, but the only way the tradition will continue to have meaning is through the commitment of the parents to a life of faith within a faith community.
Baptism takes place during the service of worship. Baptism happens many times during the year in consultation with the ministers. We believe in the importance of celebrating baptism in the service of worship, it is one of two sacraments (the other being communion). We also believe in the importance of the baptism being centred in community, as not only the individual or parents make promises but the members of the congregation also make promises to support the individual or child and their family on this journey of faith. As a community we worship and learn together, we share our questions and doubts together, we serve together, and we are share the challenges and joys of life together.
No, however surrounding your child with caring adults who will be supportive and nurturing in their faith journey will only be a source of strength.
Following the introduction of the individual or the family, questions are asked and promises are made. We then move to the Baptismal font where our Minister symbolically baptizes a child or adult by dipping their fingers into water that has been blessed, and then touching the child’s or adult’s head. Then they are anointed with oil, the sign of the cross is made on the child’s or adult’s forehead. Following this time at the font, the congregation prays a blessing upon the individual, or child and their family.
We have an expectation that people enter into this sacrament with great seriousness and sincerity. We know and understand that for some families there is great desire to celebrate a new family member, to share the joy with others. There is sometimes pressure and expectations from other family members to carry out the “family tradition” of baptism. In those moments, we are open to offering a blessing in the service of worship, so that your integrity and the church’s (faith community) integrity is lived out.
As it is a service of worship, we ask that photographers remain seated and do not use flash photography. There will also be opportunity to take photos following the service.
No, if people have already been baptized in another church, the United Church recognizes their baptism and welcomes them as Christians. In the case of infant baptism, the United Church is recognized by all denominations of the Christian church that practice infant baptism. There are, however, other opportunities to re-affirm your faith, to mark a change in your life/faith journey.