As Baptists we celebrate only two special rituals, which we call ordinances; Communion and Baptism. We have only these two because these are the only two rituals in which Jesus himself instructed his followers to engage.
We practice “believer’s baptism” meaning that we baptize people when they are old enough to make a decision on their own about following Jesus. We understand baptism as an outward and visible symbol of a decision of the heart. The water holds no supernatural powers. Baptism is a pivotal milestone on a journey; so we don’t expect people to have reached any kind of perfection before they seek baptism. Consequently some children seek baptism in elementary school, while other people wait till mid-life.
We don’t hold our tradition above those of other Christian groups; so if a person comes into our community having been baptized as an infant, there is no need for them to be rebaptized. Some people who have been baptized as children seek a second baptism simply to mark another milestone on their faith journey, but this is a personal decision.
We practice baptism by immersion which means that the candidate for baptism joins the pastor in the baptistery, a pool of water in the front of the chancel (where the cross hangs) and is completely immersed in the water. This practice symbolizes “death and burial of the old life” and “resurrection into new life with Christ”. Practically speaking, Baptists baptize by immersion because we assume, since Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, that he was immersed. It is a powerful symbol for the person who has decided to follow Jesus on the journey of faith.
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of being baptized please contact Rev. Jeff Gordon by email or by calling 216 932-7480.
The Dedication of Children and Parents
The ritual known as Dedication of Children and Parents is a cherished part of our congregation’s tradition. In celebration of the gift of new life in their midst through birth, adoption or in the ministry of foster care, parents bring their child or children before the congregation as an act of thanksgiving. Through a printed litany the parents and grandparents pledge to raise the child in the ways of Jesus. They acknowledge their dependence on God, their extended family and the community of faith in the challenge of Christian parenting. The service will include a promise from the congregation to take an active role in the child’s life, and a pastor will offer a prayer of blessing for each child.
The dedication of children should not be confused with the ordinance of baptism, or with the ritual of Christening (naming the child at baptism) that other Christian groups practice. As Baptists, we believe that only those individuals who have come to an understanding on their own of God’s invitation to new life through Jesus Christ should be baptized.
While parents are free to invite special friends or family members to stand with them in the service of dedication, these will represent the role of the extended family in nurturing the child and in our tradition are not referred to as “Godparents.”
Some children will be dedicated at First Baptist because of their grandparents’ strong relationship to our church. And it seems so very appropriate to acknowledge the critically important role of not only parents, but grandparents and other extended family members in properly tending the awesome responsibility of raising children in the way of Jesus.