Whether or not to baptize one’s own child is a pretty heated debate in the Pastor World, many saying they’d like to be “just a mom” or “just a dad” for the ceremony, while others (myself included) say it’s a great honor and a privilege to perform the act of baptism on their own child.
I don’t know that there’s a right or a wrong here, just whatever is more meaningful for you as a pastor-parent. But I do know that for me, I really struggled to find options for liturgy in this situation, so it wouldn’t feel like I was asking myself questions. I raised this concern with my husband, a poet, and he took the liberty of converting the liturgy from the UCC Book of Worship into something we could use. I thought I’d share it here so that others can have access and adapt it according to their context. Let me know what you think!
Liturgy for the Baptism of a Pastor’s Kid
Adapted heavily from the UCC Book of Worship
Dear friends, we are here to celebrate the gift of grace and the gift of life, converging to form a mighty river, the sacrament of baptism.
Thanks be to God!
Jesus was baptized by John in a river that was murky and unpredictable. From that point on, his mission was clear and his teachings shed the light of truth on all who heard his undying words.
Let the water like a fresh spring cleanse and renew the spirit; let the light like a lighthouse guide and draw us home.
This sacrament is an outward and visible sign of the love and grace of God. The promise of the gospel, and the commitment to fulfill it, is not only for us but for our children, too. Baptism with water and with the Holy Spirit is the seal of a new covenant between God and the church and this new disciple of the great rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. In a moment, we will, as a congregation, reaffirm our faith; let us recall our own baptisms and our commitments to God’s church and to each other.
In water we were made one with each other by the grace of God. May our lives flow as one as we surge to help raise this new member of our community.
PARENTS SPEAK FOR THE CANDIDATE
As a parent and a pastor, I desire to baptize this child into the faith and family of Jesus Christ.
With the help of God, I will encourage this child to resist the powers of evil and to pursue freedom of the spirit in a new Christian life.
With the help of God, I will teach him/her so that he/she will understand Jesus as a liberator of the mind, body, and soul.
I promise, by the grace of God, to be an example of discipleship, to fight against oppression and for justice, to exhibit love beyond all love and patience beyond all patience, and to witness to the work and word of Jesus as I am best able.
I promise, according to the grace given me, to grow with this child, to help him/her be a faithful member of this church, by celebrating the presence of the Holy Spirit, by furthering Jesus’ mission in all the world, and by offering the motherly nurture of God the Creator so that [child’s name] may one day affirm his/her own baptism for himself/herself.
AGREEMENT OF THE SPONSORS
[Godparents/Sponsors names], are you ready, with God’s help, to guide and encourage [child’s name], by counsel and example, in prayer and with love, as [godmother, godfather, sponsors], to follow the way of Jesus as you yourselves model it?
We are ready!
Beloved church, we are called to share God’s unquenchable love with all the nations and to offer them the gift of grace in which we all participate. Do you, who witness and celebrate this sacrament of baptism, promise your love, support, and care to the one about to be baptized as he/she lives and grows in this community?
We promise our love, support, and care.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
Let us unite with the church in all times and places in professing our faith.
Do you believe in God?
I believe in God.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER OF BAPTISM
The peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.
(This prayer comes directly from the UCC Book of Worship)
We thank you, God, for the gift of creation called forth by your saving Word.
Before the world had shape and form, your Spirit moved over the waters. Out
of the waters of the deep, you formed the firmament and brought forth the
earth to sustain all life. In the time of Noah, you washed the earth with the waters of the flood, and
your ark of salvation bore a new beginning.
In the time of Moses, your people Israel passed through the Red Sea waters
from slavery to freedom and crossed the flowing Jordan to enter the promised
In the fullness of time, you sent Jesus Christ, who was nurtured in the water of
Jesus was baptized by John in the water of the Jordan, became living water to
a woman at the Samaritan well, washed the feet of the disciples, and sent them
forth to baptize all the nations by water and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
ACT OF BAPTISM
As parents, [Partner’s name] and I have named this child, and we will say his/her name now as he/she becomes a member of the body of Christ:
[Child’s Name], you are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit always be upon you, [Child’s Name], child of God, disciple of Jesus, member of the church.
Church, greet your newest brother/sister in Christ with joyful applause.
PRAYER FOR THE BAPTIZED
(Directly from the UCC Book of Worship)
We give you thanks, O Holy One, mother and father of all the faithful for this
your child and for the grace acknowledged here today in
water and the Holy Spirit. Embrace us all as sons and daughters in the one
household of your love. Grant us grace to receive, nurture, and befriend this
new member of the body of Christ.
ALL: Give to the newly baptized: strength for life’s journey, courage in time of suffering, the joy of faith, the freedom of love, and the hope of new life; through Jesus Christ, who makes us one. Amen.