Baptism 101 – For adults seeking baptism
We are happy to do baptisms at any one of our Sunday services.
To schedule a baptism contact Karen Schmitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church office at (319) 377-4856.
What does The United Methodist Church believe about baptism?
Baptism is one of the two sacraments recognized by The United Methodist Church (the other being Communion). In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a symbol of rebirth and repentance by one who has accepted Christ and has repented of their sins.
The Origin of Baptism
The most famous occurrence of baptism in the Bible is no doubt the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. John baptized people to allow them to show that they had repented. So if Jesus was perfect, why did he need to be baptized? Jesus was baptized to sanctify baptism and show how important it should be to us. The New Testament contains numerous examples of individuals and even entire families (Cornelius, Crispus, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Stephanas) being baptized.
Baptism Through the Centuries
We don't have detailed records of baptism in those first few centuries, but we do know that it was being practiced. In His Great Commission, Christ says to go and baptize all people. (Matt. 28:18-20). As the church became organized, Christians made a practice of baptizing their infants along with adults. The Council of Carthage (254 AD) stated that "We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God..... especially infants. . . those newly born." Origen wrote "Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins. And Cyprien wrote that baptism should be performed as soon as a child is born. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement continued infant and believers baptism through today.
In The United Methodist Church, a person can be baptized either by sprinkling (most common and nearly 100% of all baptisms at Marion First United Methodist employ the practice of sprinkling), pouring, or immersion (dunking). It also accepts baptisms of other Christian denominations; so if you join from another church you do not to be baptized again (unless the Church you come from is the Mormon Church).
What is believer's baptism?
In believer's baptism, the person being baptized is publicly professing her or his own decision to accept Christ. Believer's baptism is an ordinance, not a sacrament. United Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual's decision.
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. Baptism is a milepost, not a destination.
Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?
No, but baptism is a gift of God's grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.
Is it required that I take vows in front of a congregation to become a member?
Yes, The United Methodist Church does expect that people who seek to unite with The United Methodist Church will profess their faith before the congregation. Membership is a relationship with other Christians who are United Methodists. Sometimes we think of membership as having one’s name on the roll of the church. The United Methodist Church does have membership rolls, but the roll is simply a listing of those who have committed themselves to relationship with one another for the sake of the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ and for mutual oversight and care. This understanding should be clear from the citations given below:
Paragraph 217 in the 2004 Book of Discipline reads:
When persons unite as professing members with a local United Methodist church, they profess their faith in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Spirit. Thus, they make known their desire to live their daily lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. They covenant together with God and with the members of the local church to keep the vows which are a part of the order of confirmation and reception into the Church....(From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.)
Further, Paragraph 219 on “Mutual Responsibility” emphasizes the covenantal and relational nature of membership and discipleship:
Faithful discipleship includes the obligation to participate in the corporate life of the congregation with fellow members of the body of Christ. A member is bound in sacred covenant to shoulder the burdens, share the risks, and celebrate the joys of fellow members. A Christian is called to speak the truth in love, always ready to confront conflict in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
(From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.)
What happens at the baptism service?
The pastor will call you (possibly with your membership class) to the front of the church. You will face the pastor who will give the examination of faith. After the examination, the pastor will ask you to kneel and then s/he will sprinkle a small amount of water and baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then you will be presented to a grateful congregation (possibly with your membership class) and then be given the Certificate of Baptism by the pastor or acolyte after which you can return to your seat.