BAPTISM IN THE ORTHODOX FAITH

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,… (Matt. 28:19). By this command of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church proceeded to baptize with water. The most basic of all elements (water) to human life has been selected by God to be the instrument of our spiritual rebirth. “Most assuredly, I say to you”, said Jesus “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Baptism is God filling the emptiness in man with His life and presence. Baptism is God rejoicing over the child He has created. Baptism is God laying claim to you. Baptism is new birth. It is the creation of the new man in Christ. At our baptism God cleansed us, gave us a new heart and put His Spirit within us. Baptism is to be clothed with Christ’s strength. Baptism is a regeneration, a new life. It makes us partakers of divine nature. Baptism is the adoption of an orphan by – God – Who adopts us to share with us His kingdom and His life forever, granting us the privilege of addressing Him as “Our Father Who art in heaven…”
Baptism is God breathing into us His breath of the life. Baptism is our own personal Pascha. When we are plunged under the waters of baptism, we are not only washed, we die to sin. The old sinful nature is drowned. When we rise from the waters, we rise to new life in Christ. We share in Christ’s death and resurrection. The baptismal font becomes both a tomb and a womb.
Early Christians baptized entire families including children. Thus, infant baptism continues to be practiced in the Orthodox Church today as it was in the early apostolic Church. Baptizing infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know Him or love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. To say that a person must reach the age of reason and believe in Christ before he/she may be baptized is to make God’s grace in some way dependent on man’s intelligence. But God’s grace is not dependent on any act of ours, intellectual or otherwise; it is a pure gift of His love.
We bring infants to baptism not because they believe but in order that they might believe. Baptism is like the planting of a seed of faith in the human soul. Nourished and fed by Christian training, catechesis, in the family and in the Church school, the seed of faith will grow to produce a mature Christian. Baptism introduces the child to the love of God and opens him to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Guidelines for Baptisms at Holy Trinity Church in Wilmington

BAPTISM  AT  HOLY  TRINITY  CHURCH

When parents decide to have their child Baptized (traditionally from after 40 days from birth up until 1 year old) in the Orthodox Church they should contact Fr. Dean or Fr. Nick in order to set a day and time to meet in order to schedule the date of the celebration of the Baptism, go over the information needed and fill out the appropriate paperwork.
In order for the Baptism to be canonical (legitimate) the following must take place:
  • The child must be Baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The child must be Baptized by triple immersion in water.
  • The child must be Baptized in a canonical Orthodox Parish.
  • The child must be Baptized by a canonical Orthodox Priest.
  • The child must have a canonical Orthodox Sponsor (only one).
At the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the child will also receive the Sacraments of Holy Chrismation and Holy Communion. Following the Baptism the child is a full member of the Orthodox Faith. The child has all the rights and privileges of the Orthodox Faith in which he/she may participate in.

 


 

ADULT  BAPTISM  AT  HOLY  TRINITY  CHURCH

A non-Orthodox Adult who wishes to become an Orthodox Christian and has NOT been previously baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit may become an Orthodox Christian only by him/her freely deciding to do so.
The non-Orthodox Adult who wishes to become an Orthodox Christian should contact Fr. Dean or Fr. Nick in order to set a day and time to meet in order to go over the procedure needed to do so. The following steps are needed to fulfill the procedure:
  • The Adult must receive proper education in the Orthodox Faith (Inquirers Classes).
  • After proper education, the adult will participate in the “Time of Reflection”.
  • After the “Time of Reflection”, the Adult will participate in the “Time of Commitment”.
  • After the “Time of Commitment”, the Adult will set up the celebration of the Baptism.
  • The Adult must be Baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The Adult must be Baptized with water.
  • The Adult must be Baptized in a canonical Orthodox Parish.
  • The Adult must be Baptized by a canonical Orthodox priest.
  • The Adult must have a canonical Orthodox Sponsor (only one).
At the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Adult will also receive the Sacraments of Holy Chrismation and Holy Communion. Following the Baptism the Adult is a full member of the Orthodox Faith.
The Adult has all the rights and privileges of the Orthodox Faith in which he/she may participate in.

 


 

THE  SPONSOR  IN  THE  ORTHODOX  CHURCH

Being a Sponsor at a Baptism is a very important role that must be taken seriously. The Sponsor must understand that his/her responsibility is a Spiritual one. The Sponsor, along with the parents, must guide his/her Godchild through teaching that he/she will be raised in the Orthodox Faith throughout his/her life. The Sponsor must become the “Spiritual parent” to their Godchild in order that he/she will continue to grow in sanctification, purity, righteousness, good words and works, in faith and may become a child and heir of our Lord’s Kingdom. The correct term for the person who will guarantee that the child will be taught and raised in the Orthodox Faith is “Sponsor”. This was taken from the early Church practice of Orthodox Christians who would vouch or “sponsor” for the integrity of the catechumen’s faith and intentions and guided him/her through the process of preparation for Baptism and throughout their entire life. Today, many times we have replaced the term “Sponsor” with “Godparent”. The term “Godparent” has even been misunderstood. The correct understanding for the term “Godparent” is “Parent with God”, since it is a Spiritual relationship that has been established between the Sponsor and their Godchild. The same meaning is in place when one is going to be a Sponsor at an Adult Baptism. If the Sponsor is married, the spouse is automatically called a Sponsor because of being married the other spouse who is the Sponsor at the Sacrament of Baptism. That is why only one Sponsor is allowed and needed.