Baptism and Confirmation
Baptism and Confirmation are referred to together as “rites of initiation.” Baptism brings us into the life of the Church and Confirmation strengthens us in our commitment to the faith. Those interested in Baptism should contact the clergyperson in the church office at 610-789-6754. Adults interested in Confirmation or Reception, as well as parents interested in having their children confirmed should also contact the clergyperson.
Baptism of Infants and Younger Children
At Holy Comforter, we happily baptize babies and young children into the family of God. While infants are not yet capable of fully understanding the Christian faith, we believe that the promises of God are for all people, and that God doesn’t want to wait until you’re an adult to begin a relationship with Him.
Infants and younger children (those 12 and under) are not required to make a profession of faith to be baptized. Nevertheless, Baptism is a serious undertaking. When the Church baptizes an infant, we’re making a promise to help raise that child and to form him or her in Christian faith and practice. We’re taking responsibility for helping the baptized child to grow up into a young man or young woman who knows Jesus and who can make a mature decision to follow Him as Lord.
While the Church as a whole takes on this responsibility, parents play a crucial role in raising their children in the Christian faith. Therefore, for an infant to be baptized at Holy Comforter, at least one parent must be a professing, baptized Christian and a member of this parish in good standing. Likewise, both parents must give their consent for their child to be baptized (except in circumstances in which only one parent has parental rights). Two sessions of instruction for parents are required prior to Baptism.
Children may have as few as one and as many as three godparents each. The role of godparent is to assist you in looking after the spiritual well being of your child. Godparents must attend at least one of the sessions with the priest. Godparents need not be members of the parish but they must be baptized and professing Christians. It is encouraged that at least one godparent be an Episcopalian.
Scheduling Baptism of Children
Because Baptism includes the whole Church, all services of Holy Baptism take place in the context of Sunday morning worship and include celebration of the Holy Eucharist. At Holy Comforter, we baptize infants four times a year: The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (early January), The Great Vigil of Easter (the Saturday night before Easter Sunday), the Day of Pentecost (fifty days after Easter), and All Saints’ Sunday (November 1st or the first Sunday thereafter). However, under special circumstances we may be able to schedule a Baptism for another Sunday. Baptism is not permitted during the seasons of Advent or Lent, except in life-threatening emergencies.
Baptism of Adults
For adults and older children, Baptism is a sign of a conscious commitment to follow in the way of Jesus Christ. In other words, we baptize adults and older children when they’ve come to a place in their journeys with God in which they’re able to freely profess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
In Holy Baptism, we enter into a covenant with God (Book of Common Prayer, page 304). A covenant is a relationship of mutual affection in which both parties agree to honor the other with love and devotion. In the Baptismal Covenant, God promises to forgive us of our sins, to strengthen us, to love us, and to walk with us for the rest of our lives and beyond. In turn, we promise to love God, to obey Jesus as Lord, to trust in Him and in His Church, and to strive for justice and peace in our community and in the world.
Preparation for Baptism of Adults and Older Children
At Holy Comforter, we baptize adults and older children after a period of religious instruction and spiritual preparation, sometimes referred to as catechesis.
Scheduling Baptism of Adults and Older Children
Baptism of adults and older children is generally done at the Great Vigil of Easter, with candidacy beginning on or near the first Sunday in Lent. A similar period of preparation is required prior to baptism on the other days designated for this sacrament.
In the sacrament of Confirmation we receive strengthening in our faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of hands by a bishop. For those baptized as infants, it’s an important opportunity to take ownership of the promises that were made at Baptism. For those baptized as adults, it’s an opportunity to reaffirm the faith and to enter more deeply into the life of the Church.
Confirmation of Youth
There is no mandated age of eligibility for confirming children, but usually it is happens in the early teenage years (11 and older). The candidates go through a period of instruction that leads each candidate towards making a decision about whether or not to accept and embrace the faith that has been taught to them. The instruction process culminates in an overnight retreat. Candidates are also assigned a sponsor within the parish who mentors the young person.
Confirmation or Reception of Adults
Adults who were confirmed in another tradition in which there are bishops with apostolic succession (for instance, the Roman Catholic Church or any of the Orthodox Churches) are received rather than confirmed. To be received, an adult candidate goes through the same process of instruction as those seeking Confirmation. The difference is that on the day in which the bishop lays hands on you, instead of confirming you he or she will recognize your confirmation and welcome you into the Episcopal Church.
Baptized adults who wish to be Confirmed, Received, or to Reaffirm their Baptismal Vows are invited to contact the clergyperson to arrange a series of preparation sessions.
Confirmation is offered at Holy Comforter approximately every other year, whenever the Bishop of Pennsylvania has scheduled an episcopal visit to the parish. The exact date for Confirmation thus varies depending on the visitation schedule of the bishop. For more information, please visit our Baptism and Confirmation page, or contact the priest.