Preparing for Baptism
What do you seek? This is the question asked of those who stand at the threshold of the Christian life in a service that welcomes seekers into a time of intense study and reflection called the catechumenate to prepare for baptism. Standing on the boundary of life and death, these catechumens, the name we use for those entering the catechumenate process, cross the threshold to explore and experience the Christian life in earnest. “What do you seek?” asks the celebrants. The candidates answer… “Life in Christ.”
Baptism CLAIMS US
Baptism is central to our identity as Christians. In baptism we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus and made one with the community of faith. In baptism we respond to and receive the grace of God who welcomes us into the body of Christ as a people forgiven and reconciled. Baptism is a radical reorientation of life in which we promise to live, with God’s help, in particular ways--seeking forgiveness, sharing the good news, respecting the dignity of every person in daily life--as we strive to grow into the full stature of Christ.
Baptism is a JOURNEY
Supporting people who seek to be baptized takes a commitment by leaders of a congregation to walk alongside the candidate through a period of time called the catechumenate. The word catechumenate comes from a Greek word meaning “to sound in the ear.” The catechumenate is a time for deep listening to God’s Word, a word that finds its fullest expression in the person of Jesus. Through reflection on Scripture, Christian prayer, worship, discernment of gifts and work for justice and peace, catechumens are transformed and move from being hearers of the Word to doers of the Word as Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
This 4-minutes video by Eucharist Church in San Francisco argues for the revival of the Catechumenate.
This hope is that this web page will point you toward resources for that journey. If you have additional resources to suggest, please contact the Rev. Jenifer Gamber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Resources for Baptism
- The Book of Occasional Services outlines the process of preparing for Holy Baptism and offers rich liturgical resources for the entire congregation to support those getting ready.
- Celebrating the Rites of Initiation by James F. Turrell presents a theology of the rites of initiation in the Episcopal Church (baptism and confirmation) as well as a practical guide to enacting these rites. (Companion to Celebrating the Eucharist by Patrick Malloy.)
- Baptized for Life offers a wealth of information about the catechumenate, including this video series by Juan Oliver, that lays out a process of becoming Christian, a process that takes time and involves the entire community.
- Journey to Baptismal Living is an interdenominational network of people committed to the renewal of the catechumenate and discipleship training. Their website offers a variety of resources.
- The Catechumenal Process by the Office of Evangelism Ministries in the Episcopal Church provides an overview of the history of the Catechumenate, and the process and rites. Available from used booksellers.
Baptism Resources for Adults
- Discover-Embrace-Become The Diocese of Washington will be piloting a Catechumenate program called “Discover, Embrace, Become” developed by the Diocese of Colorado. This 18-week program in three 6-week segments is appropriate for those seeking to renew their baptismal promises and those seeking to be baptized. If you have individuals in your congregation, who are interested in participating in this diocesan-wide online program, please contact the Rev. Jenifer Gamber at email@example.com.
- Come to the Waters: Baptism and Our Ministry of Welcoming Seekers & Making Disciples by Daniels T. Benedict, Jr., challenges congregations to meet adult seekers in their questions and journey together in a life of discipleship.
- Go Make Disciples: An Invitation to Baptismal Living is a handbook to the catechumenate that provides resources a congregation needs to launch a program. DVD with hand-outs and sample communications sold separately.
- Living Water: Baptism as a Way of Life by Klara Tamany offers eight sessions to explore baptismal living through poetry, art, music and films. Created specifically with an Episcopal audience in mind.
Baptism Resources for Children and their Parents
- CandlePress publishes a variety of thoughtful and theologically sound pamphlets to help families prepare for the baptism of an infant or young child as well illustrated baptismal certificates.
- Preparing for Baptism in the Episcopal Church by Anne E. Kitch provides a short and helpful introduction to baptism, including guides for preparation for children and adults.
- Baptism Is a Beginning/ El Bautismo es un comienzo edited/Editado por Rebekah Rojcewicz provides supporting essays and hand-outs for baptismal preparation in the Catholic and Episcopal traditions. (English and Spanish)
- Christ’s Own Forever by Mary Lee Wile offers detailed lesson plans to guide conversation with parents seeking to baptize their children. A separate journal for parents and godparents is available.
Baptismal Gifts for Children: Books
- Water, Come Down! The Day You Were Baptized by Walter Wangerin
- Today Is a Baptism Day by Anne V. Osgenso Moore
- Common Prayer for Children and Families by Jenifer Gamber and Timothy JS Seamans
- Oración Común para Niños y Familias de Jenifer Gamber y Timothy JS Seamans. Traducido por Yoimel González Hernández