This page will provide answers to frequently asked questions from requesting parents about Baptismal practices at Symons Valley United Church.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a symbolic action, using water, that signifies the new life God gives us as we join the wider church community. Baptism celebrates God’s initiative and our response. It is God’s “Yes” to us, and our “Yes” to God.For us, the sacrament (a holy, special act that we believe points to God’s presence with us) of baptism is an act of welcome and belonging. It is the outward sign of something we believe has existed from the very beginning – the love, welcome and acceptance of God for each person, just as they are.
What happens at the baptism?
As parents or guardians seeking baptism for your child, you will be asked some questions about your faith, as well as making some promises on your child’s behalf.The gathered congregation is asked some questions as well, to indicate their support, and their willingness to walk with you as you raise your child.We typically recite the United Church of Canada “A New Creed” together, and prayers are said as the water is poured.The child is baptized using water, and marked with the sign of the cross. We also like to place hands on each child and say a prayer for God’s Spirit to be present in the child’s life.Further details about the service are talked about during the mandatory preparation session, typically held on the Thursday or Friday evening prior to the baptism itself.
Does my child have to be a baby to be baptized?
No – we offer baptism to all ages. We believe the gift of God’s love doesn’t depend on our ability to understand it, so we baptize people as infants right up through adulthood.
Does my child have to be baptized in order to go to Sunday school or be welcome?
No. Baptism is not a requirement for God’s love, or for acceptance as part of our faith community. We believe people who die without baptism are in no way condemned, lost, or damned.
What dates are available for my child’s baptism?
Baptisms at Symons Valley United Church generally take place during Sunday worship, before our children and youth head out for their programs, so that all ages and stages can participate in this act of welcome. Typically, we celebrate baptisms about 5 times over the course of the year. Dates for baptisms are set by our Worship Committee, working together with our ministers and our families who have requested baptism.
Do I have to be a member of Symons Valley United Church in order to have my child baptized?
No, parents or guardians do not have to be members. However, we do require that at least one parent attend the preparation session prior to the baptism itself. We do ask that you worship with us a few times prior to making a request for baptism, as we want you to be comfortable as part of our faith community as you are able, and because we are making some promises to you that we want to be able to live out.
Can special individuals be named as Godparents to the child?
Yes, if you so wish. We recognize that some parents may have a special family member or friend that they want to recognize in this way. However, the traditional role of godparents is one that is now taken on by the whole congregation, in the promises they make to you as parents. Should you choose to honour someone as a godparent, they will be asked to stand with you and your child on the day of his/her Baptism, and a question will be asked of them, indicating the special place they have in your life, and in the life of your child.
How can I arrange for a baptism?
Please come and worship with us a few times to get to know us a bit, and us to get to know you. Introduce yourself to one of our ministers, and indicate an interest in baptism for yourself or your child. Dates of the next baptism will be discussed, and then your information, as well as your child’s will be gathered.
What if I have more questions?
Please feel free to speak to our minister, by phone, by email or in person, and we’d be happy to try to answer them. We look forward to further conversations with you about baptism.