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Baptism

"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.'"       Acts 22:16

What is Baptism

Holy Baptism is the sacramental act whereby a person is cleansed by the Holy Spirit and becomes part of the body of Christ - the church universal. 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.

In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. In The United Methodist Church a candidate for Holy Baptism or his sponsors may choose any of the traditional ways baptism is administered: sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. The most common method in recent years has been sprinkling.

United Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual's decision.

The United Methodist Church encourages infant baptism. In infant baptism, God claims the child with divine grace. Clearly the child can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God's grace, as we all are — whatever our age. We no more wait for our children to decide about being in the family of God than we wait for them to decide if they would like to be a part of our human family. As parents, we make many decisions — in matters of health, safety, education, for example — for our children. Of course, they may later reject what we have done for them. But, this possibility does not relieve us of the responsibility to do all that we can for them spiritually, as we do in other aspects of their lives.

Baptism is an act of God, and God does it right the first time. Our side of the covenant relationship with God will need recommitment and reaffirmation, but we can not be rebaptised. God always remains faithful to the divine side.

The above excerpted with permission from The United Methodist Church web site.

Further information on the sacrament of Holy Baptism within the United Methodist Church can be found in The United Methodist Church FAQs on Baptism.