What does The United Methodist Church believe about baptism?
Baptism is one of the two sacraments recognized by The United Methodist Church (the other being Communion). In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a symbol of rebirth and repentance by one who has accepted Christ and has repented of their sins.
Baptism Through the Centuries
We don't have detailed records of baptism in those first few centuries, but we do know that it was being practiced. In His Great Commission, Christ says to go and baptize all people. (Matt. 28:18-20). As the church became organized, Christians made a practice of baptizing their infants. The Council of Carthage (254 AD) stated that "We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God..... especially infants. . . those newly born." Origen wrote "Infants are to be baptized for the remission of sins." And Cyprien wrote that baptism should be performed as soon as a child is born. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement continued infant baptism and this practice continues today.
In The United Methodist Church, a person can be baptized either by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. We also accept baptisms of other Christian denominations; so if you join from another church you do not need to be baptized again.
What happens at the baptism service?
The pastor will call the parents and sponsors (sometimes called Godparents) to the front of the church. The parents with child and sponsors/Godparents will stand beside the pastor facing the congregation. The pastor will give the examination of faith to the parents and sponsors/Godparents who will answer on the child’s behalf. After the examination, the pastor will take the child and baptize him/her and then present the child to the congregation and return him/her to the parents. Parents will be given the Certificate of Baptism and other symbols and then can return to their seat.