According to Article XVI of the United Methodist Articles of Religion, sacraments are “signs of grace and God’s good will toward us,” by which God works invisibly in us to initiate, strengthen and confirm our faith in God. Two Sacraments are celebrated in the United Methodist Church – baptism and Holy Communion.
Baptism is the means by which a person is initiated into the universal Church, the Body of Christ, and into the local congregation. We believe that in baptism God claims us as His own, and through the Holy Spirit, works in us to bring us to a greater knowledge and love of God and neighbor, moving us ever closer to perfection in love.
- Who can be baptized? The United Methodist church baptizes persons of any age. For those who are able to speak for themselves, anyone who repents of their sin, and seeks to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior may be baptized. For infants and children who are unable to speak for themselves, at least one parent who professes faith in Christ is required to be present in order for that child to be baptized.
- Why do United Methodists baptize children? United Methodists believe that baptism is initiated by God, and that our role as humans in merely to respond to the grace given to us in baptism. Because of this, and because of the biblical witness of entire households being baptized, and the tradition of the church throughout the ages, we baptize infants and children. With the loving and faithful support of at least one Christian family member, and the nurture of a Christian congregation, a young child who has been claimed as God’s own through baptism has the ability as he/she grows to accept God’s love for himself or herself. At such time as a child is able to profess his/her faith openly, we invite them to participate in the confirmation process and ritual, where a person takes on the responsibility of living a Christian life in response to God’s grace that was given to them in baptism.
- Are private baptisms a possibility? Under special circumstances, such as a medical concern, baptisms may be conducted in settings other than in a Sunday worship service, with the participation of family and a lay leader of the church. However, the baptized person is being initiated into the Christian community, and during a typical baptism service the congregation promises to nurture and support the one being baptized in his or her Christian life. Therefore, it is recommended that all baptisms take place during a service of worship in the presence of the Christian community.
- I am not a member of Westover Hills UMC. May my child be baptized at the church? Because the community takes a vow to uphold the baptized person in his or her Christian life, it is important that the baptized person be present in the community on a regular basis. While the parents of a child being baptized do not have to be members of Westover Hills UMC, regular participation in worship and in the ministries of the church with an intention to move toward full membership is required in order for one’s child to be baptized in the church. If there are special circumstances, we urge you to contact the church office to speak with the pastor.
- Do United Methodists practice baptism by immersion? United Methodists practice baptism by sprinkling, pouring or immersion. However, most United Methodist churches to not have a baptistery (large tank of water for baptism by immersion) so baptism by sprinkling is the common method practiced today in most United Methodist churches. If immersion is desired by the candidate for baptism, we can discuss ways to make that possible.