Baptism marks the beginning of a new life with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit marks us as God’s own and enables us to accept God’s forgiveness through repentance. Jesus’ baptism was a kind of burial by water that foreshadowed his death on the cross. Jesus conquered death, so his victory over death is our victory, too. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, and enter a new life, new family and new love based on Christ. Death and darkness are left behind. We become a part of God’s Kingdom.
Baptism is the sign and seal of our oneness with Christ. Water is the special sign of our oneness with Christ. It is the everyday element by which God’s promise at baptism comes to us. Water cleanses and renews us just as Jesus Christ cleanses our sins from us. The Holy Spirit is the seal that confirms our union with Christ at baptism. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, baptism brings us God’s promise of love, which nourishes our faith and unites us in fellowship with Christ and with all people who accept Christ.
Baptism is truly a faith celebration shared by the whole community of believers. The entire congregation promises to love and care for the newly baptized and to provide an example of faith and love.
The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. Parents bring their child for baptism on the basis of their own faith and are the vital force in fostering a child’s spiritual growth. It is their responsibility to promise to raise their children in the Christian faith, to profess their own faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and to receive God’s promise of grace for their children.
Adults and youth who wish to confess their faith and enter the church can be baptized after a period of instruction and a public confession of faith in Christ. The goal of preparation is to help persons coming to baptism claim the faith as their own, so they may share actively in the life, work and mission of the church.