What is Baptism?
Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the Christian life. The washing with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the sign and seal of a person’s inclusion in the covenant of God’s people and union with the risen Christ. Thus, baptism, whether of an adult or a child, is a response to what God is already doing in that person’s life. This highlights the fundamental Presbyterian conviction that God always takes the initiative in redeeming us and that we are saved by God’s grace through faith. Neither the act of baptism, nor the decision to be baptized, confers salvation; both of these are responses to God’s grace already given and at work in one’s life.
I am an adult and not baptized. What must I do to be baptized?
The first step is to contact Pastor John and he can arrange to meet with you and discuss the meaning of baptism. Typically baptism takes place when one joins in membership of the church. The Membership Orientation is an opportunity in which we talk about the basics of Christian faith, the characteristics and history of both the Presbyterian Church and Oakville, as well as what it means to be a member of Oakville Church. Following the Membership Orientation, a date will be set for you to be baptized and received into membership during a Sunday worship service. Pastor John can let you know when the next Membership Orientation is scheduled.
Is it possible to be baptized but not join the church?
No. As baptism is union with Christ, so it is union with Christ’s body, the church. Baptism is Christ’s gift to those who would be joined to him and promise to follow him as a member of his body, the church.
Are private baptisms permitted?
As baptism is initiation into the covenant community, it is imperative that the members of that community attend and participate in the service. In addition to the vows you take, the congregation vows to support you (or your child, if this is an infant baptism) as you grow in faith. Therefore, except in extraordinary circumstances, baptisms take place as part of the regular Sunday morning worship services.
I would like to join Oakville, but I was baptized as a Catholic (or Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, etc.). Do I need to be baptized again?
No. The Presbyterian Church has always placed great emphasis on the unity of the Christian church. We count anyone who has been baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit a baptized Christian, regardless of the tradition within the Christian church that administered the baptism. You simply need to attend one of our Membership Orientations.
Do I have to be baptized to take communion?
Baptism is the act of initiation into the Christian community and should take place before you receive Communion, which is the meal Christ left his followers as a means of continuing to experience his presence in their midst. It is also food and drink to strengthen Christ’s followers for their lives of faith and ministry as his body in the world. However, it is Christ’s table; he is the host. It may be that Christ is calling you through the invitation to the table. If you do respond to that invitation, you should speak with Reverend Carpenter and arrange a time to prepare to receive the sacrament of baptism.
How can I arrange for my child to be baptized?
If you are already a member of Oakville, contact Reverend Carpenter who will schedule a baptism conference with you. At that time, Pastor John will discuss the meaning of infant baptism with you to ensure that you understand the intention of the vows you will take. If you are not a member, the first step to having your child baptized is for you to join Oakville by attending an Membership Orientation. At least one parent must be a baptized Christian and a member of Oakville. In infant baptism, the parent(s) take the vows on behalf of the child and promise to raise her or him in the Christian faith. Similarly, the congregation vows to support the child’s growth in faith.
What is Communion?
Communion or the “Lord’s Supper” is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. During his earthly ministry Jesus shared meals with his followers as a sign of community and acceptance and as an occasion for his own ministry.
In his last meal before his death, Jesus took and shared with his disciples the bread and wine, speaking of them as his body and blood, signs of a new covenant. He commended breaking bread and sharing a cup to remember and proclaim his death.
At Oakville communion is a time of prayer, worship, and sharing unleavened bread and grape juice. We practice open communion, and all baptized believers are welcome at the table. Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month during the worship service.