Do Episcopalians Practice Infant Baptism?

by Elise Medina
For Episcopalians, infant baptism symbolizes God's free grace; requiring nothing in return from his children.

For Episcopalians, infant baptism symbolizes God's free grace; requiring nothing in return from his children.

The Episcopal Church baptizes infants as well as older children and adults. Episcopalians consider the sacrament of holy baptism "full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.” The Book of Common Prayer contains the liturgy for a baptismal service, and stipulates when and how an infant should receive this sacrament. When parents choose to have their child baptized, they signal their intention to adhere to the Episcopal Church's Baptismal Covenant and to raise their child as an active participant in their local church.

Baptism's Meaning

Some Protestant denominations require a profession of faith prior to baptism, this is not the case within the Episcopal Church. Episcopalians see faith as a journey, and baptism, particularly infant baptism, is the start of that faith journey, not the capstone event. They teach that baptism creates an irrevocable bond between God and the baptismal candidate. When infants are baptized, their parents and godparents also enter into a covenant relationship. These sponsors accept the spiritual responsibility of raising the child to know and love God.

Service of Baptism

The Book of Common Prayer contains the liturgy for the baptismal service, which occurs in conjunction with the Eucharist. During an infant baptism, the child's parents and godparents, the sponsors, participate more actively in the liturgy than when an older individual is baptized. The sponsors affirm their belief in the Baptismal Covenant and declare their desire to raise the child as a Christ-follower. Following prayer and the administration of water, the child is pronounced "sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever."

Requirements for Baptism

In order for an infant to be baptized, the Episcopal Church requires sponsors to be in agreement with the Baptismal Covenant contained in the Book of Common Prayer. Individual churches, however, may have additional requirements for preparing for an infant baptism. Parents may be asked to review the Baptismal Covenant and to think about how they will execute the declarations they plan to make during their child's baptism. Churches may also ask parents to learn about baptism's symbolism and the identity of the Trinity.

Protestant Controversy

Baptism within the Episcopal Church is open to any person without regard to age, but this is not the case in all Protestant denominations. Some denominations practice only a believer's baptism, and don't consider infant baptism bliblical. Episcopalians, however, hold the view that baptism is symbolic of publicly joining God's family. In the Episcopal context, infant baptism is entirely appropriate. It signifies the beginning of a young child's journey learning about God's love and growing in faith.

About the Author

Elise Medina writes and cooks in northern Virginia, where she works as a nutrition consultant. She holds a B.A. in political science and Spanish from Virginia Tech, as well as a master’s degree in political science from George Mason University.

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