Statement of Belief on Baptism
The "Song of Faith" of the United Church of Canada states;
"Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are born into the brokenness of this world.
Before conscious thought or action on our part,
we are surrounded by God's redeeming love.
Baptism by water in the name of the Holy Trinity
is the means by which we are received, at any age,
into the covenanted community of the church.
It is the ritual that signifies our rebirth in faith
and cleansing by the power of God.
Baptism signifies the nurturing, sustaining,
and transforming power of God's love
and our grateful response to that grace.
Carrying a vision of creation healed and restored,
we welcome all in the name of Christ.
With the Church through the ages,
we speak of God as one and triune:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We also speak of God as
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer
God, Christ, and Spirit
Mother, Friend, and Comforter
Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love,
and in other ways that speak faithfully of the One on whom our hearts rely,
the fully shared life at the heart of the universe.
With this as our foundation, the congregation of St. Martin's United Church upholds the Sacrament of Baptism. We affirm:
- It is a gift of God, and like all of God's gracious gifts, does not depend on our own worthiness
- All people are equally precious in the eyes of God
- Baptism is not required for salvation; those who are not baptized bear no stigma; no burden; no exclusion from the grace of God
- Parents/guardians and those presenting themselves for baptism are required to say yes to the required questions. The church reserves the right to refuse baptism if this requirement, in good conscience, cannot be met by the participants
Baptism is traditionally the way of initiation into the Body of Christ, the church. As such, it is both a means of grace and a human response to this grace. It requires something of those being baptized, or their parents or guardians, AND of the gathered community who is doing the baptizing. The promises of the congregation are as binding and solemn as those of the persons seeking baptism.
According to the bylaws of The United Church of Canada, the Sacrament of Baptism, in the case of children, shall normally be administered with the consent of the Church Board to those children whose parents or guardians (one or both) have been baptized and confirmed and are United Church members in good standing. Exceptions may be made only with the consent of the Church Board, which should:
- Share with the parents in the responsibility for the Christian upbringing of the child,
- Require a sponsor to be provided who has been baptized and confirmed and is a member in good standing, and
- Seek through the means of grace to bring the parents into full, active communion with The United Church of Canada.
Where it is not possible to secure the prior consent of the Church Board, the person administering the Sacrament of Baptism shall report such emergency decisions as may have been made in particular cases to the next meeting of the Church Board for ratification. The secretary of the Board shall keep an accurate record of Baptisms.
While recognizing that the earliest Christian baptisms were performed "in the name of Jesus Christ" and that the language used is of less importance than the intent of the participants, we acknowledge that baptism is a sacrament of initiation into the whole church, not just the congregation of St. Martin's. To have baptisms recognized in the ecumenical community, The United Church of Canada has made a commitment that all baptisms will be in the name of triune God, using the traditional Trinitarian Formula of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit." In keeping with the United Church's commitment to inclusive language, the baptizing minister may expand on the Trinitarian Formula with a variety of phrases that express the inclusive nature of the Divine.