As a ULC minister, you might be asked to perform a baptism. If you've never performed this ritual, you might be apprehensive about undertaking it. Here is a quick primer for planning the ceremony. More in-depth resources are available throughout the website.
A Typical Ceremony Outline
- Welcome the participants and guests to the ceremony.
- Introductions of those being baptized. The individuals who are being baptized might want to give a testimony.
- Prayers and blessings said over the one being baptized.
- The adult is led into the water and prepared for the rite.
- The baptism is performed.
- Complete the ceremony and invite the guests to welcome the baptismal candidate into the fold.
Is It Really That Easy?
There is a lot of preparation that will go into the ceremony, but now that you have the elements you can work it through. It's important to talk about the beliefs of the individual who is being baptized. Plan to talk about what the person expects. Take notes. You don't want to forget something as you're making the document to help you get through the ceremony.
Scheduling is another aspect you will need to consider. You not only have to plan the ceremony into your own schedule and that of the baptismal candidate, but you also have to consider the location. If you're using a local body of water, you want to make sure it will be warm enough to stand in for an extended period of time. Some churches rent out their sanctuary and baptistry for ceremonies, much like a wedding. However, you should ask about any requirements they have to use their facilities for a baptism.
Adult baptism may not feature a godparent, but a sponsor. This is an individual who was instrumental in bringing the baptismal candidate to the faith. Some religions have very strict requirements about the sponsor, but this is between the minister and the candidate.
Preparing for and Performing the Ceremony
You can find a baptismal script on our website, and you should take the time to read it through and make sure that it fits the person's beliefs. Once you have the right words, you will want to rehearse it and include appropriate actions to understand how it fits into the overall ceremony. For example, you don't want to talk while immersing the person in the water.
For an immersion ceremony, you need to have your garments prepared. If you're wearing a white robe during the immersion, make sure you have lighter colored clothes under the robe. Some recommend sewing fishing weights at the bottom of a garment to keep the robes from floating up during the ceremony.
If the person wants to give a testimony, have them write out the words. This keeps the person from rambling during the ceremony and helps them pinpoint what they want to say. During the ceremony, these sentences can be written down on a small card so they can stay focused on the message.
Make sure the baptismal candidate knows your cues. Remind him or her to relax. Talk about your technique before the ceremony. You shouldn't have to lift the person out of the water. You are more of a guide. If the body of water is smaller, the candidate might wish to kneel as you guide their head underwater, rather than falling back into the water.
Provide a certificate to the candidate following the ceremony. This document can be used as a form of secondary ID in many cases. Do not issue the certificate lightly. We recommend that you keep records of all the people you baptize. Some people may return and want another copy of the certificate. The ULC offers elegant baptismal certificates that can be given to the candidate to frame and keep for years. You can perform a baptism that is meaningful, when you take the time to prepare.