Holy Baptism: Christian Initiation
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble (Book of Common Prayer, p. 298). Holy Baptism is a sacrament or sign of God’s unconditional love for us, a love that binds us into community with one another. In baptism we receive forgiveness of sins and are made sharers in God’s own life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we respond by promising to follow the way of Jesus.
Infants, children, and adults may be baptized in the Episcopal Church. Youth and adults also may renew their baptismal promises in the presence of the Bishop at various times during the year. A parent desiring baptism for a child should contact the Rector to arrange a time to meet and discuss the promises made in baptism. A baptismal covenant class is offered periodically throughout the year for those preparing for baptism or the renewal of baptismal vows. We normally expect that the parent(s) will be active members of St. James, or in special circumstances practicing members of another Christian Church.
Four dates are usually set apart especially for baptism: The Sunday after All Saints Day (First Sunday in November), The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus (normally the second Sunday in January), The Great Vigil of Easter (the Saturday before Easter), The Feast of Pentecost (seven weeks after Easter). Baptism may be scheduled during the principal Eucharist on other Sundays as well. Private baptisms are not celebrated in the Episcopal Church except in case of emergencies.