Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God — John 3:5
What is baptism?
In the sacrament of baptism, a person is incorporated into the crucified, resurrected, and glorified Christ and is reborn to participate in the divine life. Together with chrismation and reception of the Eucharist, baptism marks our initiation and entry into the Church, as members of Christ’s Body.
The baptismal service begins with a series of exorcisms, during which the person being baptised renounces the devil and the fallen world, then confessing their Christian faith and desire to join themselves to Jesus Christ. In the case of infant baptisms, this renunciation and confession is made by the godparent on the child’s behalf. After this, after the priest has blessed the waters, the candidate is anointed with olive oil — a symbol of reconciliation (see Genesis 8) and mercy —and is then immersed three times ‘in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’. The three immersions into the water symbolise Christ’s three-day burial, while the coming out of the water symbolises His resurrection. At this point, as the Church fathers teach, the font becomes both a tomb and a womb — we die and are born again, united with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. After this, the newly baptised is clothed in a white robe — ‘for as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ’ (Galatians 3:27) — and is anointed with holy chrism (see the entry on Chrismation) to mark their reception of the Holy Spirit. After this, the newly baptised circles the font three times, holding a lit candle as a sign of their enlightenment. After the reading of the Holy Gospel, the service finishes with the tonsure, when the hair of the newly baptised is cut crosswise as a symbol of a life of sacrifice — for God and our fellow man — which should be the hallmark of every Christian.
A person’s initiation into the Church is completed once they receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist (see the entry on Holy Communion).
How can I book a baptism at St Andrew’s?
If you wish to book a baptism, please get in touch with us by calling the church office.
Prayers before Baptism (after birth)
First day — on the day of birth (if safe and practicable) a priest will visit the hospital/home in order to say prayers of thanksgiving and for the safety of mother and child.
Eighth day — on the eighth day, the child should be brought to church in order to formally receive their name.
The same prayer is often used when an adult is received as a catechumen.
Fortieth day — the fortieth day marks the mother’s formal return to church after childbirth. As well as being a symbolic number in the Bible, the forty days correspond to the normal 6-week recovery time specified by, for example, the NHS. Prayers are read over the mother, and the child is ‘churched’ or ‘presented’ to God by being carried up to the doors of the Sanctuary and before the icons on the templon.
What do I need to bring with me?
At the baptism, you should bring with you:
- A cross to be worn around the neck of the newly baptised;
- New clothes (ideally white) to be worn after baptism — an adult will often wear a white robe or dress;
- A large towel for the person being baptised, and a small hand towel for the priest;
- A myropáni, a large sheet roughly the same size as the towel;
- A bottle of olive oil;
- A white candle (lampáda).
- The child’s birth certificate and, ideally, the godparent’s certificate of baptism.
Christening shops will often sell ready-made sets containing the above items.
Who can act as godparent?
As the name suggests, the godparent’s role is to help in the spiritual upbringing of a child. It is essential, then, that the would-be godparents are active and faithful members of the Orthodox Church who are conscious of the spiritual responsibilities that come with this important role. They can be members of any canonical parish or jurisdiction.
Can I be baptised again?
In the Nicene Creed, we ‘confess one baptism for the remission of sins’. We confess one baptism (as opposed to ‘any baptism’) because there is one God, one Lord, one faith, and one Church, but also one baptism (as opposed to ‘many baptisms’) because baptism can only happen once. It would be a blasphemy to knowingly re-baptise anyone who has already received a valid Orthodox baptism.
Is the baptism conducted in Greek or English?
Baptisms can be conducted entirely in English, entirely in Greek, or in half-and-half depending on the wishes of the family.
Is there parking?
Baptisms normally take place on Saturdays and Sundays, when parking is free on single yellow lines and residents’ bays around the church. Parking is therefore not a problem.