Universal Life Church

How to Perform a Baptism

Baptism has long been an important element in many spiritual traditions. You are probably most familiar with seeing it practiced in various denominations of Christianity; Catholics, Assemblies of God, and of course Baptists partake in baptisms, as well as most others. It is viewed as a rite of passage wherein the participant is inducted into a community of faith. It also symbolizes a believer's dedication to God and/or a set of religious rules.

This guide is designed to help an online ordained minister learn how to perform a baptism. Below we'll provide some basic tips and information about the ceremony, but if you want a more in-depth look (complete with examples, readings, and a history of the rite), you’ll want to pick up our Baptism Set. It even includes a clergy badge and a few high-quality Holy Baptism Certificates! While it is recommended that you have your minister license, baptisms are not regulated by the government and thus do not require any registration.

Note: while baptism is most closely associated with Christianity, several religions have their own traditions, almost all involving water to symbolize a cleansing of one’s old life and full embrace of their new life guided by faith.

Stained glass window depicting a baptism

When you become an ordained minister, you may be asked to perform a baptism -- so it’s important that you have a good understanding of the ceremony. There are two types of baptisms: affusion and immersion. Affusion baptism involves sprinkling or gently pouring water on the head of the participant. This version is typically performed on those with limited mobility such as the elderly, babies, or the handicapped (though it can be used for anyone).

Immersion baptisms, as the name suggests, involve full submerging the participant in water. For this type of ceremony, you’ll need a pool, a font, or a natural body of water like a lake or river.

Baptismal Ceremonies in Christianity

Stained glass window depicting a baptism

Many Christian denominations invoke the Holy Trinity during a baptismal ceremony. This tradition comes from the Biblical account of the baptism of Jesus as told in the Gospels. During the events, God the Father opened the heavens and sent down the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ, the son.

It is important to know the traditions specific to each denomination of Christianity if you are called to perform such a ceremony. Open a dialogue with the participant and other members of the faith group to ensure you are respectful of their process.

How to Perform a Baptism

A baptism is a relatively simple ceremony in terms of logistics. This ceremony only has a few basic requirements: a minister, a participant, and witnesses that will help the newly baptized believer on his or her journey in the community of faith.

For baptizing babies, typically the family will stand with you in front of the congregation, often times holding the child during the baptism. While there are many variants on the rite, here are some basic steps to follow when performing a baptism:

  • The participant should wear white. White symbolizes purity and a fresh start.
  • Say a prayer The prayers that are typically said during the ceremony are meant to cleanse infants of original sin and adults of any sins they have committed up to that point.
  • The participant is welcomed. Members of the community of faith will often surround and offer support to the person being baptized.
  • Cleanse with water. Here is where the participant is either dunked under water or water is poured or sprinkled on his or her head.
  • Celebrate. Everyone involved rejoices in the baptism of the participant.

As a minister, it is a good idea to keep records for baptisms you have performed, including the dates and the names of participants.

If you have any further questions or concerns, our online catalog includes a variety of baptism resources which you may find helpful.