Prerequisites prior to Scheduling the Divine Mystery of Holy Baptism
1. Active Church Membership
A Baptism is a privilege that requires a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise the child in the Orthodox Church. If parents are not active members of the Church, you must demonstrate a desire to become active for the sacrament to be approved. Parents are the primary role models for their children in living a committed life to Christ. Commitment to Christ is expressed in regularly attending Sunday liturgy, participating in the sacramental life of the Church and being a current Steward of the Church.
Note: If parents themselves are not regularly attending an Orthodox Church, an appointment should be made with the priest in order to discuss the situation.
2. “Good Standing” Requirements for an Orthodox Christian
A Pledged Steward and member of an Orthodox Church for the current year. If you are not sure if this applies to you, please speak to the priest immediately.
Actively attending the divine services on Sundays.
Choosing a Sponsor or Godparent In the Baptismal service, the Church requires a Sponsor/Godparent (koumbaros – male, Koumbara – female). The Godparent is the one who vouches for the child and the family as to the sincerity of the reasons why they are seeking baptism. In addition, the godparents serve to guide, teach, and counsel their godchildren in the Orthodox faith. The Church requires that the Godparent be an Orthodox Christian in good standing; there are no exceptions to this rule. The priest can help couples in the selection of godparents if needed.
3. Requirements to Serve as a Godparent
The following requirements must be met if you wish to serve as the child’s godparent:
- Must be an Orthodox Christian.
- A registered Steward of an Orthodox Parish.
- If married, must be in an Orthodox Church.
- If married in the Orthodox Church and are now divorced, they need to obtain an Ecclesiastical Divorce Decree.
- A parishioner may serve as a sponsor in another Orthodox Parish by presenting a letter of good standing from his or her home Parish Priest.
The Godparent anoints the child with blessed oil during the ceremony. By participating in the sacrament in this manner, the Godparent is making a pledge to guide and support their Godchild.
4. Godparent Customs
Note: It is customary for the Godparent to bring their Godchild to Holy Communion for three consecutive Sundays after the Baptism. This is done in order to form andd affirm the practice of regular and frequent communion for the child.
Scheduling Your Baptism
To schedule a baptism you must contact the Church office.
Invitations: The printing of invitations should not be done until the date and time for the baptism has been confirmed with the parish Priest. Additionally, the Priest and his Presvytera never assume their own presence at any event outside of the services. If you wish to have the Priest and wife or family attend any meal or reception following the baptism, please send them an invitation in advance to their home address.
Frequent Questions or Concerns
Naming the Child
If the child was not given a Christian name (a saint’s name) one must be selected. The formal paperwork which affirms the Sacrament assumes the name of the child will be a Christian and asks for the name to be included on the document. The giving of a Christian name establishes a life long relationship between the child and their saint. If you need help the parish Priest will be happy to assist you in selecting a name.
Baptismal Candles and Martyrika (witness crosses w/ ribbon): Traditionally, the newly baptized receive a decorated candle at baptism. Some provide their guests with martyrika (witness pins) which can be personalized with the child’s name and date of the baptism. These are not required.
Length of the Baptism
The Baptism service is approximately 45-60 minutes long.
Selecting a date
In selecting a primary and alternate date, please be aware that scheduling a baptism is subject to the overall calendar of the church and are not performed from Christmas Day through the Feast of Theophany (December 25 – January 6), during Holy Week, any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord, nor any of the dates listed below:
September 8 (The Nativity of the Mother of God)
September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
November 21 (The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple)
December 25 (The Nativity)
January 5 and 6 (Theophany)
February 2 (The Presentation of Christ into the Temple)
March 25 (The Annunciation)
Ascension (Forty Days after Pascha)
Pentecost (Fifty Days after Pashca)
August 6 (Transfiguration)
August 1-15 (Dormition Fast and Feast)
The following items may be provided by the parents or the Godparents.
Cross & Chain
White Outfit for after the Service
A Small Bottle of Olive Oil
A Bar of Ivory soap
1 white hand towel
1 Large White Bath Towel – (If a double baptism – bring 2)
1 Large Candle- (If a double baptism – bring 2)
Optional additional smaller candles for Children to participate in a procession, if applicable