GCI: Baptism of an Infant
A baptism service can take place during the worship service or at any convenient location and time. In our congregations, the pastor usually attends and officiates at all baptisms. The pastor must authorize all baptisms, but anyone the pastor designates may perform or participate in the ceremony.
It is best for the minister to arrive at the location before the family of the infant to be baptized. Greet the family warmly and put them at ease.
Baptism is a joyous ceremony, and the minister should set a positive tone. Be sure to meet any relatives or friends who come to witness the baptism.
One or more of the following scriptural passages may be read.
- Matthew 28:16-20
- Mark 1:9-11
- Luke 18:15-17
- Acts 2:32-39
- Romans 6:1-10
- Ephesians 4:1-6
- 1 Peter 3:18-22
In a short prayer, the officiant asks God’s blessing on this joyous occasion.
Officiant says: “Children are a blessing and a reason to rejoice. For this reason, we follow Jesus’ example in blessing the small children in our congregations. When one member rejoices, we all rejoice, and it is our pleasure today to join in celebrating this precious child and praying together to affirm God’s love for him/her and to thank God for his blessing and presence with him/her as he/she grows throughout life.
The parents/guardians bring the child forward for the baptism.
Officiant asks the child’s parent/s: What is your child’s full name?
Parent/guardian responds with the child’s full name.
Officiant asks: “Do you believe that [child’s full name] is in Jesus Christ a beloved child of the Father, united with Christ by grace through Christ’s atoning work?”
Parent/guardian responds: “Yes.”
Officiant asks: “Do you desire that [child’s full name] be baptized?”
Parent/s responds: “Yes.”
Officiant says to the congregation words to this effect:
[Parents’/guardians’ names] are today presenting their child for Christian baptism. Since baptism is a sacrament, this is a sacred time in the life of these parents/guardians, this child, and this community of faith. The regenerating grace of God was accomplished once for all in Jesus’ atoning work nearly 2000 years ago. Christ gave this sacrament of baptism as a sign and seal testifying to our acceptance of what God has already done in Christ for his or her personal salvation and the salvation of the whole world.
For [child’s first name], Christian baptism signifies God’s gracious acceptance and inclusion of children into the household of faith within the care of their parents/guardians and extended family, and under the nurture of this community of faith led by the Holy Spirit. This baptism points forward to [child’s first name] own personal response to that grace when the Spirit leads him/her to faith in Jesus Christ.
“_______________________ [child’s full name], I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (the officiant dips a finger into the baptismal water and then touches the child’s forehead*).
Reception into the church
If the baptism takes place during the worship service, the officiant then asks the congregation to receive the child as a part of the church family.
Officiant asks: “Do you embrace [full name of the child] into the fellowship of the Body of Christ here at (name of the congregation)?”
Congregation responds: “We do.”
Officiant asks: “Will you love, uphold and support [first name of the child] in his/her life in Christ?”
Congregation responds: “We will, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Officiant states: “[Full name of the child], we welcome you into the Body of Christ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The officiant concludes the service by laying hands on the shoulders or head of the infant who was baptized and offering a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing for the child.
*Some officiants may choose to do this three times, each time making the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead.