Baptisms of infants, older children, youth, and adults take place throughout the year and are arranged with one of the pastors.
As a church, it is our joy to be part of this sacred moment as you begin your baptismal journey by God’s grace. If you are interested in getting baptized at First Pres Wilmette, please reach out to a pastor.
Here are a few words about what we believe baptism means and why it matters in our life of faith:
- We believe Baptism is a sacrament, a “visible and outward sign of an invisible and inward grace” (Augustine). In Baptism, we celebrate the renewal of the covenant, share in Christ’s death and resurrection, and commit ourselves to die daily to sin and walk in newness of life.
- Baptism reminds us that God claimed humanity as God’s own “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
- “Both believers and their children are included in God’s covenant love. Children of believers are to be baptized without undue delay, but without undue haste. Baptism, whether administered to those who profess their faith or to those presented for Baptism as children, is one and the same Sacrament. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith” (Book of Order, W-2.3008).
- Baptism, therefore, usually occurs during infancy, though a person may be baptized at any age. Parents bring their baby to church where they publicly declare their desire that the child be baptized. When an infant or child is baptized, the church commits itself to nurture the child in faith. When adults are baptized, they make a public profession of faith.
- The water used in baptism symbolizes three accounts from the Bible’s Old Testament: the waters of creation, the flood described in the story of Noah, and the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. All three stories link humanity to God’s goodness through water. Also, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is our precedent in the church today for baptizing all of God’s children. At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus gave authority to his disciples to baptize everyone in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:16-20).
- Baptism signifies the faithfulness of God, the washing away of sin, rebirth, putting on the fresh garment of Christ, being sealed by God’s Spirit, adoption into the covenant family of the Church, resurrection, and illumination in Christ.
- Unlike some denominations, Presbyterians do not require a person to be fully immersed in water during baptism. Baptism is received only once. Its effect is not tied to the moment when it is administered, for it signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. We Presbyterians believe that persons of other denominations are part of the one body of Christian believers; therefore, we recognize and accept baptisms by other Christian churches.
- Baptism is administered as part of a Sunday worship service. In the Presbyterian church, baptism is authorized by the Session of a particular congregation and performed by a minister.
Following is a sampling of the baptismal liturgy:
Through baptism we enter the covenant God has established. Within this covenant God gives us new life, guards us from evil, and nurtures us in love. In embracing that covenant, we choose whom we will serve, by turning from evil and turning to Jesus Christ. As God embraces you within the covenant, I ask you to reject sin, to profess your faith in Jesus Christ and to confess the faith of the church, the faith in which we baptize.
Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?
Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?
We will, with God’s help.