"Christians are, it is true, baptized one by one, but to be a Christian is to be part of a new creation which rises from the dark waters of Christ’s death into the dawn of his risen life. Christians are not just baptized individuals; they are a new humanity.”
(The Book of Alternative Services, p.146)
When Anglicans think of Baptism, they usually associate it with babies garbed in white “christening dresses” and surrounded by adoring relatives. These are indeed joyous celebrations. Yet, all the specific accounts of baptism in the New Testament have to do with adults. Adult baptism was very common in the early church. It became gradually less frequent only because most adults had already been baptized as babies. Nowadays, adult baptism is still recognized as the norm, even though if it has happened less often than the baptism of infants throughout large chunks of Christian history. It is in relation to the baptism of adults that the baptism of children is to be understood.
Because of the general decline in church membership over the past few decades, the number of adult baptisms has been on the rise. Sometimes it happens after a dramatic conversion experience, following a time when one has thought of him or herself as an atheist or agnostic. Sometimes it is a more gradual process. Whenever and however faith is found, it is always the work of the Holy Spirit, prompting one to find the meaning of life in God and to commit oneself to learn about Christ and to follow him.
Whatever has led you to the point of being interested in the sacrament of baptism, we want to do everything we can to help you make a commitment that will be both richly satisfying and life-long. We offer the opportunity to talk, listen, and ask questions about the Christian faith and lifestyle in both group settings and one-on-one.
We have tried to answer the most commonly asked questions about baptism on this web page. If you want to know more after reading it, do not hesitate to contact the clergy.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament, which means that it is an outward and visible sign of God's gracious work within us and within the world. The Bible talks about baptism in terms of a "washing away of sin," a "dying to our old life, and rising again to a new life in Christ." It always refers to baptism in the context of a professed faith in Christ. Baptism along with faith are the means by which a person is united with Christ and made a member of his company of disciples, the church.
Should I be baptized?
Many people are baptized as babies but have little contact with the Church afterwards. Consequently, when they make an adult decision to follow Christ, they may feel that baptism would be a good way to mark this new beginning.
Baptism, however, can take place only once. It is permanent and can be neither cancelled nor repeated. So, if you were baptized as a baby, you are still baptized and cannot be baptized again. If you are not sure whether or not you have been baptized, it is important to find out from parents or older relatives.
Baptism is not required of persons coming to membership in the Anglican Church from any other denomination of the Church. As long as they were baptized with water, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, their baptism is recognized as valid in the Anglican Church.
If you are certain that you have not been baptized, then this is definitely the way to commence living the Christian life and to assume full membership in the church.
What if I have already been baptized?
Sometimes a person has already been baptized but wishes to make a fresh start in the Christian life. We recognize the importance of doing something as a community to acknowledge such a life-changing decision. Although they cannot be re-baptized, we do encourage them to reaffirm their baptismal vows. Reaffirmation takes place in a confirmation liturgy when the bishop lays hands upon a person and says, “May the Holy Spirit, who has begun a good work in you, direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom. Amen.”
Can I be baptized privately?
Asking for a private baptism is “like asking to swim without getting wet!” In other words, it doesn’t make sense. If baptism is the opportunity for the church to make a commitment to nurture a person in his or her spiritual growth, then they must be present to do so.
There are rare and extenuating cases where we have no choice but to celebrate a baptism without the congregation present. A person would have to be in mortal danger or permanently incapacitated to even consider this alternative.
How do I choose sponsors?
When considering whom you would like to name as your sponsors (usually one or more persons), please remember that their task is to assist you in your spiritual growth. They should be baptized and active participants in their own churches (not necessarily Anglican). But wait until you have first discussed the matter with the clergy before you ask someone to be a sponsor.
Is total immersion possible?
There are two ways to be baptized: affusion (the pouring or sprinkling of water on the forehead) and immersion (complete immersion in water). Anglicans are most commonly baptized in the former manner because we believe that it is not the quantity of water that matters, so much as the faith of the candidate (in the case of adult baptism) and the grace of God symbolized by the water.
Baptism by affusion is so common and ingrained in Anglican practice that we are only equipped to do it in this way at St. Michael the Archangel. If, however, you feel strongly that you want to be baptized by immersion, special arrangements can be made to do so within the public liturgy of an Anglican church that has a baptistery equipped with an immersion tank.
When can I be baptized?
New Christians in the early church were commonly baptised at Easter. We continue that practice today, setting apart the Easter Vigil (the evening before Easter Sunday) for the baptism of adults. Another appropriate time for adult baptism is the annual confirmation service at which the bishop is present.
Those who joined the Church in the early Christian centuries were not only baptised with water. The bishop also laid his hands on them in blessing, a rite which later developed into what we know today as confirmation. Admission to the Church was completed by their receiving Holy Communion for the first time. These days, a confirmation service is the ideal opportunity to do all these things, combining baptism, the laying on of hands and first communion in the same liturgy. When it does not seem reasonable to wait for one of these two opportunities, adult baptism can also occur within one of our Sunday morning baptism liturgies.
No baptisms are conducted during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. It is important to make your application as early as possible to avoid delaying your baptism.
What does the preparation entail?
We require all people who come for baptism to participate in pre-baptismal preparation. This might take the form of a class if others are preparing at the same time as yourself. If you are the sole applicant, individual preparation will be undertaken by the clergy. In the case of a teenager, it will normally make sense to prepare within a confirmation class. Circumstances vary and every applicant's preparation is considered on a case by case basis.
How do I apply for baptism and confirm the date?
If you are interested in starting the process to be baptized, please call the church office at 416-299-9592 and request an appointment with the clergy. The date and other details regarding your baptism will be confirmed after that meeting has taken place.