Are you interested in exploring baptism for yourself or your child? This page will help you navigate the process.
Here are the steps for exploring and scheduling a baptism at Trinity under normal circumstances:
Contact the office administrator at (920) 231-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an initial conversation with Fr. Chris. At some point in the process, you will be asked for the full name of the person being baptized, their date and place of birth, the full name of their parents (if applicable), and the full names of the sponsors or Godparents. As much of this information as possible will be taken during this initial conversation.
If you don’t already have one, the office administrator will get you an account through Realm, our online membership management system, which will allow us to communicate with you throughout the Baptism exploration and preparation process. Realm will also give you access to documents explaining how The Episcopal Church understands baptism. We ask that you read these documents before meeting with Fr. Chris.
You will meet with Fr. Chris and decide together whether baptism makes sense for you or your child at this time. Part of this meeting will be walking through the baptism service found in the Book of Common Prayer, which is what Trinity uses. If baptism is the right option, you will decide on the date at this meeting. You can see the FAQ below for when baptisms can be scheduled.
Everyone required for the baptism, such as the person being baptized, parents and guardians, and Godparents or sponsors, will need to be at the church 30 minutes prior to the service. Fr. Chris will then go through the logistics of the service and help everyone get familiar with the space.
You or your child will be baptized!
There are also emergency situations where an unbaptized person is about to die. In such cases, if there are days or hours before the death is likely to happen, contact Fr. Chris directly at 605-881-8153. If the death is likely to happen much more quickly, or Fr. Chris can’t be reached, any baptized person can perform an emergency baptism. All that is needed is that the person performing the baptism pour water on the person about to die’s head while saying “(Name [if known]), I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Do I have to be an adult to be baptized at Trinity? No. We follow the historic pattern of the church and baptize infants, urging parents to have their children baptized while they are still babies. We believe that baptism carries with it special protection from the Holy Spirit that helps children grow in their faith. While some traditions hold that baptism cannot happen until a person can decide for themselves that they want to accept the faith, we do not. Instead, we believe baptism is primarily about God’s free gift to us and understand the rite of confirmation as the time of publicly accepting and professing one’s faith. However, if you were not baptized as a baby, we will absolutely baptize you as a child or adult and we believe that this is just as full and equal an expression of baptism as what happens for babies.
Does this mean that children who are in-between being babies and adults have to wait to be baptized? No. From our perspective, “adult” simply means that the person is able to decide for themselves whether they want to be baptized or not. While it differs from child to child, what this means is that around the time toddlers move into being children, around 3 or 4, they can only be baptized if they decide for themselves they want it.
Do I have to be a member to be baptized or have my baby baptized at Trinity? No. In fact, getting baptized and having it recorded in our membership register is what makes you a member or our church!
Do I have to have come to Trinity for a certain amount of time before I or my child can be baptized? No, although we strongly encourage you to attend services for a few weeks and get to know the community before being baptized or seeking to have your child baptized. In baptism the whole community will make promises to help you or your child grow in faith, and it helps if they know who they’re making those promises for. Similarly, since becoming a member of the church is a significant part of what baptism is, we hope you will continue participating in the life and worship of the church after your or your child’s baptism. Nonetheless, not having come to Trinity before will not keep you or your child from being baptized.
Do you do private baptisms? No. The Book of Common Prayer, the book that determines normal worship practice for Episcopal Churches, says that “Holy Baptism is appropriately administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast.” We believe that baptism is “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church,” and we want to make sure the church has the opportunity to welcome the newly baptized person as part of the service. The only time we would do something like a private baptism is in an emergency when the person to be baptized is likely to die very soon.
Are there certain Sundays when I or my child can get baptized then? Our preference is for Baptisms to happen on the major feasts associated with baptism: the Easter Vigil or Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day, and the Feast of Jesus’ Baptism. However, any Sunday or other day that we celebrate a major feast with a Eucharist is an acceptable time for a baptism. Normally the earliest a baptism can be scheduled is two weeks after the initial meeting with Fr. Chris.
Trinity Episcopal Church 311 Division Street Oshkosh, WI 54901 (920) 231-2420