Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. It is a public statement of one’s intentional decision to follow the way of Jesus. In the case of infant baptism, it is the parents’ declaration of their intent to raise a child in the way of Jesus. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble, so baptism is only administered once. When you choose to be baptized yourself or to have your child baptized in the Episcopal Church, it means you are choosing to live out the Baptismal Covenant in the context of an Episcopal church community, taking your part in the worship, mission and ministries of the local parish. Baptism is open to all people, regardless of age or background.
If you feel called to be baptized, or to have your child baptized, the first steps are to attend a local parish (click here for a list of churches in the Diocese of New York) regularly and to talk to the clergy about baptism. Most churches require candidates for baptism to undertake some intentional preparation. That preparation should include study of the Baptismal Covenant and what it contains, and what it can mean for your life. One should also learn about the symbol of water, about the importance of the Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in whose name the baptism is administered, and about the Scripture stories that illuminate the meaning and symbolism of Baptism.
Baptism can be regarded as the beginning of a spiritual path and not the culmination of one. It is not necessary that a candidate for baptism fully understand nor be comfortable with every word of the Christian Creeds and doctrines from the outset, but rather be ready to embark on the rich path of discovery into the way, truth and life of Jesus Christ.
If you are new to the Episcopal Church and have already been baptized in another denomination, you may wish to renew your faith life. If this is the case, you may be Received or Confirmed in the Episcopal Church, rites which your local parish can help you learn about and discern whether they are appropriate for you. Wherever you come from and whatever your faith background, the Episcopal Church welcomes you!