Baptism is a sacrament of Christian initiation. As an individual is cleansed by the waters of Baptism, the whole congregation is reminded of God’s everlasting covenant with us in Jesus Christ. Members of the Meeting House who wish to nurture their children in the Christian faith are encouraged to present them for Baptism. Baptism is the same sacrament for both adults and children: the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognizes all baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit administered by other Christian churches.
The Lord’s Supper (also known as the Eucharist or Holy Communion) is the sacrament of Christian renewal and sustenance. When we come to the Lord’s table, we give thanks for God’s mighty acts of creation and salvation. We remember Christ’s sacrificial death for us, enter into communion with the living Christ and with others of the family of faith, and look forward to the day when God’s reign will be fully realized. The PCUSA observes an “open communion”: all who come to the table, including children, are invited to share in the Sacrament, recognizing that it “is not a right bestowed upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance and love.”
Frequently Asked Questions
The PCUSA guidance is “at least one parent (or person exercising parental responsibility) should be an active member of a Christian church, normally the congregation in which the baptism takes place.” While baptism is a gracious act of God, it also calls for our response. The person being baptized, or their parent, commits to active participation in the church’s worship and mission. The congregation, on behalf of the universal church, commits to nurturing baptized persons in Christian life.
There is no specific age, and circumstances may vary for each family and child. The PCUSA guidance is “without undue haste or undue delay”. Many infants are baptized between three months and one year of age, though we have baptized children as young as one month, as well as elementary age. Once children enter middle or high school, it is more appropriate for them to be baptized at their own request, often during the Confirmation year, rather than the request of their parents.
In our tradition, the congregation as a whole makes promises to nurture and support children in their faith. You are certainly welcome to ask someone in your child’s life to also serve as a godparent, but there is no official recognition of this role during the baptism service.
Yes! We recognize that our members often join us from other Christian denominations, some of which observe adult-only (or “believer’s baptism”), so that they were not baptized as infants or children. Others were raised without a church background, and still other adults have chosen to wait. While we do baptize more infants and young children than adults, it is powerful to welcome new members to the Household of God by celebrating the sacrament of baptism for them.
The Presbyterian Church USA observes an “open communion”: all who come to the table are offered the bread and cup, recognizing that it “is not a right bestowed upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance and love… Worshipers prepare themselves to celebrate the Lord’s Supper by putting their trust in Christ, confessing their sin, and seeking reconciliation with God and one another. Even those who doubt may come to the table in order to be assured of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ.”
If you have not yet been baptized, we hope that you will prayerfully consider responding to the grace offered in the meal by exploring this next step in Christian faith.
To learn more about Meeting House Sacraments, contact Rev. Katherine A. Stanford or Rev. Ann Herlin.