What Do Methodists Believe About Baptism?

Julie Kirk
newborn baby in christening gown

What do Methodists believe about the baptism of children and adults? The following is a brief history of the Methodist church as well as information on this denomination's baptism and salvation beliefs.

What Do Methodists Believe About Baptism of Children and Adults?

What do Methodists believe about baptism? The official doctrine of The United Methodist Church in regards to baptism is this: Baptism represents believers' repentance and forgiveness of sins. It also signifies a new birth and the beginning of a person's Christian discipleship.

Baptism Symbolizes God's Intentions for Young Children

Because young children are considered to be heirs of God's kingdom and believed to be under the atonement of Jesus Christ, they are thought of as acceptable subjects for baptism. In other words, baptism is symbolic of God's intentions for them.

An infant baptism is a sacrament and a gift of God's grace. This combined with teaching God's word can help guide the child, as he or she grows to accept the covenant and receive their salvation through their profession of faith.

Can Adults Be Baptized in the Methodist Church?

Methodists believe that regardless a person's age, in order to follow Christ, they must be baptized. When an adult has made the decision to publicly profess their faith in Christ, they are also ready to be baptized and should not further delay receiving the gift of God. This is called a believer's baptism and is considered an ordinance rather than a sacrament.

The Methodist Church also accepts baptisms of other Christian denominations. If an adult joins from another church and has been baptized previously, there is no need to be baptized again.

Baptism Is a Sacred Symbol That Affirms Christian Beliefs

Baptism, along with communion, is considered a sacred symbol that affirms a Christian's beliefs and signifies the acceptance of God's gifts through the Savior. Baptism is a welcoming and an initiation into the church. It signifies new birth through water and the Spirit.

Baptism Represents the Forgiveness of Sins

The Methodist Church acknowledges "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins," according to the Nicene Creed. Therefore, those who have accepted and welcomed Christ and repented for their sins, it is a symbol of rebirth and repentance.

The Baptismal Ceremony

Facts about the baptismal ceremony itself include:

Sponsors/Godparents

In the Methodist Church, sponsors/Godparents are actually not required. However, their participation is still widely practiced. In an infant baptism, the parents may choose a person (or persons) as a sponsor/Godparent to their child. The sponsors/Godparents are chosen to walk with the child until they are able to claim the way of Christ on their own.

In the case of a believer's baptism, the sponsor will walk with the adult on their journey of conversion until the day the adult is baptized. The baptism will be performed after the adult has successfully learned and experienced the Christian way.

Where Is the Baptism Performed?

The baptismal ceremony is typically performed at the church during a Sunday service. You must be a professing member of the church and vow to raise your child as such. You will simply notify your pastor and he will inform you of what steps are necessary prior to the performing of the baptism.

What Happens During a Baptismal Ceremony?

During the Sunday church service, the pastor will call the parents and sponsors /Godparents to the front of the church. They will face the congregation as the pastor gives the examination of faith. The pastor will then take the child and baptize him or her by sprinkling water on their forehead. The child is then presented to the congregation and returned to the parents. A Certificate of Baptism and other symbols are given to the parents by the pastor. The parents and sponsors/Godparents return to their seats for the remainder of the service.

You Can Take Communion in a Methodist Church if You Are Not Baptized

The Methodist Church welcomes everyone to the communion table, including children and adults, members and non-members.

Important Changes Within the Methodist Church

Over the years, the Methodist Church has experienced some integral changes. One of these changes includes women's roles within the Church. Today, women hold important positions such as ordained ministers, bishops and district superintendents. Another change is the ethnicity of the Church. The Church believes in the strength of community and welcomes everyone regardless of his or her gender, race, or ethnic background.

Baptism and Salvation

While it is important to be baptized, it does not mean automatic salvation. Baptism is just the beginning of an ongoing process of responding to God's grace and a lifelong journey of learning and growing in your faith. Salvation ultimately requires trust in Christ and the acceptance of God's grace. For more questions regarding the Methodist belief on baptism, salvation, and other doctrines, visit The United Methodist Church.

What Do Methodists Believe About Baptism?