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What is Baptism?
In the Episcopal Church, The Book of Common Prayer is the source of our theology – what we believe and
think about God and our life together in the Church. So to answer the question "What is Baptism?" we Episcopalians
naturally turn to the prayer book. On page 298 under "Concerning the Service" we find this definition:
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.
These two short sentences are packed with meaning. First, once a person is baptized he or she is
a full member of Christ’s Church. In the case of infant baptism, later on in life a baptized
Christian may choose to publicly declare his or her faith in what is known as Confirmation. That is an
important and meaningful opportunity but it does not in any way complete Baptism or make one a fuller member
of the Church. In fact, Confirmation only has meaning in the context of Baptism. Baptism is all that is
required for full membership – including the reception of Communion – in the Church.
The second point is equally important. Baptism is for ever. There is nothing that we can say or do which
can break the bond between God and us in Baptism. This is why a person may only be baptized once. If you
have already been baptized in another church but would like to become a member of the Episcopal Church, or
if you have drifted away from the Church and would like to return, we have a different service called
Reception and Reaffirmation. Please ask a member of the clergy for more information about this.
Since our Christian life is rooted in the promises we make in our Baptism, here at Grace Church we take this
sacrament very seriously. Baptisms are celebrated during regular Sunday services. This public celebration
allows many of us to witness the service and to welcome another new Christian to our community – and to be
reminded of our own Baptism.