Baptism Overview

On behalf of all the members and friends of First Congregational Church, we want to welcome you in the name of Christ. We are glad you have chosen our congregation in which to have your child baptized – or to be baptized yourself, if you have never been baptized. We believe Jesus Christ wants us to welcome all persons into the fellowship of the Church, so we offer the sacrament of baptism to all who are willing to make the promises that are included in the baptismal service. You do not have to be a member of this congregation or have Congregational background. People come to us from many backgrounds, some Christian, some secular, some from other religions.

So, in the name of Christ, we welcome you, and we hope that, as your child grows, you will know that he or she is welcome to participate in our Sunday morning Church School and our other activities for children and youth. And we invite you to attend worship services with us in future weeks, so you can get to know us better. Perhaps you will find that you want to learn more about this congregation that so many generations of families in Fall River have made their “church home.”

Baptism in the Congregational Tradition

Baptism is practiced in several forms in the Congregational tradition. Infants and children may be baptized upon the request of their parents or guardians. Adults or teenagers of a discerning age may be baptized upon public profession of faith. Sprinkling is the common manner of performing the actual baptism.

We believe there is no need to rush to baptize infants. Every infant is safe in the hands of God, whether he or she has been baptized or not. Baptism by water and the Spirit is the mark of the child’s acceptance into the community of believers, into the “church universal,” and the beginning of their growth into what we hope will be full Christian faith and discipleship.

We conceive of baptism as an act of the entire congregation. The Minister acts as a representative of the congregation and, at one point in the baptism, the members of the church are asked to promise their support to the one being baptized. Our people promise our love and care as a Christian community, and our efforts to nurture the baptized child in the Christian faith. Parents (and godparents, when they are present) are asked to promise that they will, to the best of their ability, seek to raise their child in the Christian faith, providing the nurture of the Christian

church, so that the child may later come to affirm his or her baptism – usually by participating in the rite of Confirmation, sometime in their early teenage years. Except in unusual circumstances, we do not re-baptize individuals who have already been baptized. Rebaptism is thought to carry with it the suggestion that the person’s previous baptism was somehow invalid. We recognize as valid all baptisms as they are performed in all the traditions of the Christian faith.

We have no specific requirements concerning godparents. Some children have no godparents. Others may have several. During the baptism, the godparents usually stand with the parents and make the same promises the parents make concerning the nurturing of the child in Christian faith.

Those baptized at First Congregational Church receive a baptismal certificate and the baptism is recorded in the official baptismal record of First Congregational Church.

Pursuing a Baptism at the First Congregational Church

If you wish to have your child/ren baptized, or if you wish to be baptized yourself, please contact the Church Office. The requirements that we hold prior to performing Baptisms are important, but quite simple. Regardless of membership in the Church, there is a required meeting with the Pastor before the Church will commit to perform the sacrament of Baptism in any case. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the questions that will be asked in the service of Baptism or Dedication, and to determine that the theological understanding of Baptism is both understood and embraced by the parents of the child, or the adult, to be baptized. For members and active participants, this meeting will be scheduled between the Minister and the family at everyone’s earliest convenience. For non-member Baptisms, an informational session will be scheduled every few months and all interested individuals will be invited to attend prior to scheduling the baptism date.

Baptisms of church members and active friends take place during the worship service. Because of the great number of non-member baptisms we are asked to perform, those baptisms occur outside of the regular worship service and are scheduled on a periodic basis.

The Senior Minister does not accept a fee for baptisms, but there is a Sanctuary Fee of $50 for non-member baptisms, that goes to support the ministries of the church.