Child Baptism & Dedication Information
As a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Genesis celebrates the sacrament of baptism as taught by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. When parents bring their child for baptism, they acknowledge the covenant that God made first with Israel, and then through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
As God called and chose his servant people Israel and made covenant with them, saying, “I will be your God and you will be my people,” so, in the fullness of time, God called and chose Jesus Christ to fulfill this covenant for all. Through His birth, life, death, and resurrection God has made a new covenant of grace whereby we say, “You are our God and we are Your people.”
In baptism we come to claim the promises of that new covenant, rejoicing that Jesus instituted baptism as a visible sign of covenant-making, in our washing with water by the word.
In child baptism parents acknowledge that the emphasis is not on our response, but on what God has already graciously done for us through Jesus Christ. God has already provided the means of salvation, with the hope that one day the child may acknowledge his or her acceptance in the new life of Christ. Through water and the word, the child is indelibly marked with the sign of the covenant, conveying a new identity to the baptized in the name of the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Parents who baptize their child emphasize the unique way in which the child is tied to the faith community. While the elements of hearing, repenting, and believing are necessary in the reality of conversion for each person, the presence of word and sacrament in the community of faith (baptism) recognizes the ongoing work of God in a child’s life.
The Evangelical Covenant Church recognizes and values children who have not been baptized as infants to be full participants in the community of faith. Child dedication is a sacred rite for parents who want the blessing of God on their child, but believe that baptism is to be reserved for those who have made a conscious decision representing faith in Jesus. In dedicating an infant, parents are accepting their responsibility of nurturing the child in the love and grace of God. The emphasis in infant dedication is on the personal pledge of parents to raise and nurture their child in the ways of Jesus.
Child dedication is rooted in the biblical celebration of the blessing of life and birth. It recalls Jesus’ blessing of children as a sign of the kingdom of God (Mark 10:13-16). It proclaims the message of God’s saving grace in Christ for everyone, including children. When a child is dedicated his or her parents anticipate and hope for the child’s future personal commitment of faith in Jesus, when the child hears the word, repents, believes and is baptized.
The Role of the Community of Faith in Child Baptism and Dedication
When a child is baptized or dedicated, the community of faith receives the child as one of Christ’s own, and commits to share the responsibility of caring for and nurturing both the child and the parents in a deepening faith in Jesus. Every member of the community is invited to commit to pray for, guide, nurture and encourage the child to know and follow Jesus. Therefore, baptisms and dedications exemplify one of our favorite phrases around Genesis: that we really are “in it together.”