We believe baptism is the outward expression of an inward decision to put your faith in Jesus.
Baptism is a symbolic act to publicly profess your salvation. United Methodists practice the sacrament of baptism for both very young as well as those who are consciously participating in the act. For those who are of an age of consent, baptism is a witness to their faith in the saving, renewing work of God in Jesus Christ. It is a symbol of both cleansing from condemnation and rebirth into the family of God. God is always the primary actor in baptism, offering new life. Regarding the work of God in Jesus to cleanse and renew, those who are baptized are affirming, “I believe it. I receive it.” While the baptism of those old enough to consent is one of the great joys in the church, the greatest joy comes from knowing that the living God has drawn, forgiven, cleansed and awakened those receiving baptism.
With regard to infants or those too young to consent to the actions, baptism is again a witness to the initiative of God in a child’s life. No matter our age, it is always God who begins the relationship, blesses the relationship and provides active grace to continue the relationship. The baptism of young persons is a witness to God’s initiative in such a person’s life. It is also a witness to the necessity of God’s grace to enable all persons to come to faith and a renewal of life. We are all as helpless as babies to save ourselves. In presenting their child for baptism, parents are both witnessing to this reality as well as indicating their willingness to be agents of God’s grace in leading a child to faith and new life in Jesus. The church also affirms its willingness to be instruments of the grace of God in Jesus to help a child become engaged with the Savior. The baptism of the very young is a witness to the necessity of God’s initiative and continuing engagement with those of any age in order to come to a place of personal faith.
Baptism is always a prerequisite to church membership. Parents interested in the baptism of their children or persons of the age of consent who are considering baptism are encouraged to speak with a pastor.