What is Holy Baptism?
In Holy Baptism our gracious heavenly Father liberates us from sin, death, and the devil by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is something God does to us: In the waters of the sacrament, God puts us to death on the cross with Christ and then raises us to new life. Because God is the one doing the action, Holy Baptism is not a statement of faith or an act we do to show our faithfulness. It is God’s way of acting to make us a part of his family.
Scheduling a Baptism
If you or a member of your family are wishing to be baptized, our pastoral team is ready to walk with you and to help you prepare for baptism. Call the Church Office at 262-542-2545 to begin the process. Read on to learn more about Holy Baptism at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church.
Baptism is for children and adults
While infant Baptism is practiced in the Lutheran church, it is recognized that many have not grown up in the Lutheran Church and may have never been baptized in the name of the Trinity. Adults and children, alike, who have never been baptized in a Christian Church are welcomed into the Christian community through the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Baptism is done once in a person’s life
The Christian life calls the baptized to return to Christ daily. Christians do this by claiming the promises God makes in Holy Baptism. Because God is the actor in Holy Baptism the baptized trust his actions to be true and faithful. For this reason, Lutheran Christians, and other main-line Christian Churches, do not baptize a second time.
Baptisms are events of the congregation
Baptism is always a public event in the Church. When a person is baptized he/she is baptized into the body of Christ, which is the Church, the gathered community of faith. For this reason, the community has a stake in every baptism. Private baptisms are appropriate only in emergency situations, when it is not possible to gather the community of faith. In such a cases a public announcement of the baptism is made at the service the following Sunday.
The congregation participates in every baptism. Its participation is ritualized, yet remains concrete. Congregations who welcome people into Christ through Baptism commit themselves to support the newly baptized in his/her new life of faith. This commitment must not be taken lightly. The congregation pledges itself to care for and nurture the newly baptized so that s/he will grow in his/her relationship with the resurrected Jesus. Because churches take this commitment seriously, baptism happens in the church where the person worships regularly.
In keeping with the protocol of the Lutheran Church, this congregation may act on behalf of another to celebrate baptism, at the discretion of pastor. Celebrating a baptism “in proxy” of another congregation shall only happen at the request of the pastor of the church where the baptismal candidate is already involved. In such a circumstance, the membership of the newly baptized shall be transferred immediately to the congregation where s/he is active.
The Pastor presides at Baptism
In the Lutheran Church, it is the responsibility and joy of a pastor who has been called to a particular congregation to preside at all baptisms of that congregation. The Bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, by virtue of his/her office may also baptize within the congregation. Visiting clergy and/or pulpit supply shall not preside at Baptisms in this congregation. When people wish to involve other clergy as participants in the baptism, such arrangements may be made when appropriate at the invitation St. Luke’s Senior Pastor.
A person desiring to be baptized may request baptism. If the candidate is a child, then it such requests shall be made by his/her parents. Requests shall be made to the pastor of the congregation, a minimum of four weeks in advance of the desired date.
In determining a baptismal date, the following factors will be considered:
- The candidate’s participation (or his/her parent’s participation, if the candidate is a child) in the Church. Candidates for baptism are active in the Church.
- The candidate’s readiness to carry out the joys and responsibilities of faith.
- The appropriateness to celebrate baptism within a particular service
- Easter is the chief baptismal day of the Church. Other appropriate days include: Baptism of our Lord (January), Pentecost (late spring), Reformation Sunday (October).
- Baptism is not appropriate during the season of Lent and on other somber festivals.
- Services containing events and/or special themes/activities may not be appropriate for baptism.
- The availability of a pastor
- The ability for the candidate and/or parents of the candidate to prepare with the pastor prior to baptism.
Preparing for Baptism
Prior to a baptism, the pastor will meet twice with families active in the church to discuss issues surrounding baptism. When a family does not have a long history of active participation in the congregation more sessions may be required.
Baptism and church membership
When a person is baptized, he/she becomes a member of the church in which he/she is baptized. Baptisms at St. Luke’s normally happen among those who belong to member households. If the household of the newly baptized does not hold membership in this congregation, the newly baptized will remain a member of St. Luke’s.
Sponsors are people of faith who actively participate in a Christian Church of their choice. Sponsors are charged with the responsibility of helping the newly baptized grow in the faith.
Baptisms in emergencies
When an unbaptized person is near death and baptism is desired, it is appropriate to call the pastor. Whether the person is a child or an adult, Pastor is available to serve. Such baptisms can happen at home or in the hospital/institutional setting. Baptisms done outside of the congregation will be recognized in a worship service when appropriate.