Baptism is a sacrament. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a
sacrament is a "holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs,
Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied
to believers." Presbyterians recognize two New Testament sacraments – Baptism
and the Lord’s Supper.
Both sacraments are signs of God’s initiative, not ours. In them, God in Christ
takes the first step toward us. The sacraments are signs of God’s reaching out to
us in the past and of God’s ongoing concern for us now. The most important aspect of Baptism is not what we do, but what God does. The sacraments are the tangible, concrete "seals" of the promises of forgiveness, freedom, and new life offered in the gospel. In Baptism we are reminded especially of God’s promise: "I will be your God and you shall be my people."
What is Baptism?
Who receives Baptism?
Baptism is administrated to all those whom God calls. Since the initiative lies with God, and since, in any case, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to respond to God’s call, the key factor in Baptism is not the age or maturity of the person being baptized, but rather the church’s corporate response in claiming the promises sealed in the sacrament.
Whether the person baptized is an adult or a child, the congregation also makes its promise to nurture the baptized person in the faith. The vow of the local congregation, which represents the church universal, is an important aspect of the Baptismal rite. Presbyterians do not practice "private Baptism."
What is the role of the parents?
In Baptism you make a commitment to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and to Christ’s church. What’s more, you dedicate your child to God and promise to bring up your child in the Christian faith. In Baptism you promise to pray with and for your child, to teach her/him the doctrines of the Christian faith, to read the Bible with her/him, and, to use the language of one Baptism rite, "to strive by all the means of God’s appointment to bring her/him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Our congregation, representing the church as a whole, also makes a commitment. We pledge to assist you in bringing up your child in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," and to share the gospel with you and your child. Much of the congregation’s life of worship, education, fellowship, and service is ordered to that end.