Baptism is the outward and visible sign in which a person is connected with God and with the people of God in a covenantal relationship. For more than 2,000 years it has been the way people mark their becoming a follower of Christ and part of the body of Christ.


At St. Nicholas Episcopal Church the service of baptism takes place on several Sundays of the year. As it signifies the public commitment between a person and God it is always administered as a part of one of our main worship services. Baptism is the outward and visible sign in which a person is connected with God in a covenantal relationship.

Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble.

– The Book of Common Prayer

Baptism signals that the person baptized has been seeded with inward and spiritual gifts from God. These gifts include:

  • birth into God’s family the Church
  • forgiveness of sins
  • union with Christ in his death and resurrection
  • new life in the Holy Spirit

Baptism is not primarily involve assent to an intellectual proposition, nor is it primarily becoming a member of a church. It is incorporation in God’s own life. The Episcopal Church teaches that all people may be so incorporated and may commence upon a lifelong journey to comprehend the connection between God and one’s self. Infants, children, and adults may be baptized. At baptism, the person to be baptized must make certain renunciations and promises. The baptismal vows for infants and younger children are made on their behalf, in faith, by their sponsors. Older children and adults make their own promises.


Baptism is a public ceremony in which the gathered community of Christians participate in welcoming a new member into the Church. The gathered community consists of the family and sponsors of the person to be baptized, along with the congregation and clergy of the local church in which the baptism takes place. St. Nicholas Church considers baptism to be a part of its ongoing relationship with the baptized person and therefore strongly encourages candidates to consider becoming members of the congregation if they have not already.

At St. Nicholas Church, baptism instruction is conducted over one or more sessions, as needed. When numbers permit, baptismal instruction is done with groups of families to allow opportunities for mutual sharing and support.

Each candidate for Holy Baptism is to be sponsored by one or more baptized persons. Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. Sponsors of infants, commonly called godparents, present their candidates, make promises in their own names, and also take vows on behalf of their candidates. It is fitting that parents be included among the godparents of their own children. Parents and godparents are to be instructed in the meaning of Baptism, in their duties to help the new Christians grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of his Church.

– The Book of Common Prayer


Baptisms are scheduled during 10:00am Sunday morning service on the following traditional dates:

  • Epiphany Sunday (January)
  • Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil (March/April)
  • Pentecost Sunday (May)
  • All Saints Sunday (November)

In addition, we reserve Transfiguration Sunday (July/August) as a “snow date.” In cases of urgent need, baptisms may be scheduled on other Sundays, as our schedule permits.Check with the Church Office for open dates.



Those interested in Holy Baptism should complete and send a Baptism Information Form to the Rector, specifying a preferred baptism date. If it is one of the traditional baptism dates listed below, you may assume it will be approved (barring a high number of applications for the same date). If you have an urgent need for a different date, please suggest a preferred date and explain the circumstances.  We will do our best to accommodate.  In determining your preferred date, make sure you allow sufficient lead time for preparation of the candidate or the candidate’s parents, as well as Godparents/sponsors, if possible.


Prior to the baptism date, you will meet with the a member of the clergy for baptism preparation discussions. In these discussions, held over several sessions, you will discuss the baptism service and its significance, the roles of parents and sponsors, as well as the nature of your and the sponsors’ commitments to the candidate. We strongly encourage all family members and sponsors attend, if possible. You may wish to bring a copy of your Baptism Information Form to the meeting.


Before the actual baptism a rehearsal will be held. Family members and sponsors, if possible, should be present. This is a time to work out the logistics for the upcoming service and to answer any final questions.


Baptisms are popular occasions. Plan to arrive early and sit in one of the front two rows. This will be especially necessary if there will be out-of-town Godparents/sponsors in attendance who were unable to attend preparation session(s).


Suggestions on Selecting a Sponsor

The Person you select as a sponsor:

  • Should be a Christian. Only such a person can, in good conscience before God and Church, make the baptismal renunciations and promises on behalf of the candidate.
  • Should participate regularly with a Christian congregation for his or her own spiritual growth.
  • Should be willing to enter into a long-term relationship with the person to be baptized.
  • May be a family member, relative, or friend.

Number of Sponsors

People frequently ask about the appropriate number of sponsors. The church requires that there be at least one sponsor and that all sponsors be baptized Christians. A long-standing church tradition specified two men and a woman for a male candidate and two women and a man for a female candidate. We suggest that at least one woman and one man, other than the parents, be selected. This provides several persons for the baptismal connection between candidate and sponsors, and creates balance and variety.

Being Chosen as a Sponsor

Being asked to serve as a baptismal sponsor is an honor. It is also a fulfilling experience. Whether asked by family members, friends, or other Christians, the sponsor has been chosen for a special relationship with the one to be baptized, with the baptizing community, and with God. We of St. Nicholas Church believe that sponsors can more satisfactorily fulfill their role if they have same preparation before the baptismal rite and guidance following it.

Baptism is the sacrament of God within the Christian Community in which a person is incorporated into the body of Christ and connected with a local church community. During the baptism the person is called by name. This is the sign of personal family relationship between God — who is the creator, redeemer, and sustainer of the Church — and the one baptized. Baptism is both personal and corporate.

Baptism takes place within a local Christian congregation. It is a public ceremony administered within the Eucharist as the chief service on a Sunday or other feast day (BCP 298 — all page numbers in this guide refer to the Book Common Prayer.) The baptismal party includes the candidate (the one who is to be baptized), the candidates parents (if the candidate is an infant or small child), and one or more baptismal sponsors. Sponsors of infants and young children are commonly known as Godparents.

What Qualifies a Person to Serve as a Sponsor?

The sponsor should be a baptized person. Only a Christian can, in good conscience make the required baptismal renunciations and promises on behalf of the candidate. Non-Christian family members are welcome to participate in the ceremony and make what promises they can, but we cannot expect any person to make promises they know they cannot keep.

Sponsors should actively participate in the Christian congregation of their choice for their own spiritual growth and strengthening. It is within the worshiping community that the sponsor has direct contact with the foundations of Christian belief and life. The foundations are the Holy Scriptures, the traditions of the Church, and the exercise of human mind and heart. In the Episcopal Church, we call these three pillars of faith: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

Sponsors are persons who commit themselves to a long-term relationship with their candidate. The particulars of this relationship should be developed and adapted as needed. The important point is that the candidate and sponsor maintain a continuous relationship, however it is lived out. This guide contains some suggestions to help in this regard.

Sponsors are asked by the candidate or the family to perform this role, which is an expression of confidence in the person’s ability to be a worthy sponsor. While it is a serious undertaking, discovering with someone else the treasures of Christian life is a growing, fulfilling experience. Becoming a sponsor serves as a reminder of one’s own relationship with God through baptism. and is a way to live into the promises made at the rime of the sponsor’s own baptism.

What Is Expected of the Sponsor?

It is expected that the sponsor will:

  • Establish a special relationship with the candidate.
  • Represent Christ and the Church to the baptized person and vice versa (for example, standing with the candidate at the time of baptism and assisting the candidate to live into the baptismal promises).
  • Set an example of Christian life for the candidate.
  • Support the baptized person through prayer.
Father in Heaven,
who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan
proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant that all who are baptized into his Name
may keep the covenant they have made,
and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
– Collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany:
The Baptism of Our Lord (BCP, p. 214)

Where Did the Practice of Baptismal Sponsors Come From?

The root of the word sponsor is spondere. It means “to promise” and is also the root of espouse and spouse. In the early days of the Church, when the threat of persecution was often a reality for Christians and there was a fear about spies, sponsors vouched for the candidates to the baptizing community by presenting them and guaranteeing that they were who they said they were. The sponsor stood as a witness to the Christian community that the person seeking baptism was truly desirous of following Christ and of serving and loving God and God’s creation. In addition, sponsors joined their candidates during the days of baptismal preparation. This walking together included praying for the candidates, instructing candidates in the faith, helping candidates understand what they ,ere turning from and toward, and preparing candidates for Christian living in the world. The sponsor has a vital role in helping the candidate and family accept their full participation in the Christian community and the world. With God’s help, the relationship between the newly baptized and the sponsor is enduring and fruitful.

How Can a Sponsor Prepare?

Ways to prepare to serve as a sponsor include:

  • Read this guide.
  • Read the baptismal service on pages 299-308 of the Book of Common Prayer (available at St. Nicholas Church or another Episcopal Church or the Parish Online Amazon Bookstore).
  • Attend baptism preparation sessions with the parents, prior to, the baptism, if possible.
  • Be willing to explore questions, issues, and expectations around baptism with the person to be baptized, a member of the clergy, and/or the family.
  • Pray for the members of the baptismal party, especially the candidate, that they might approach the sacrament with reverence and thanksgiving.
O God, you prepared your disciples for the coming of the Spirit
through the teaching of your Son Jesus Christ:
Make the hearts and minds of your servants ready to receive
the blessing of the Holy Spirit,
that they may be filled with the strength of his presence:
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– For those about to be Baptized or to renew their Baptismal Covenant (BCP, p. 819)
  • Delve into some of the resources about baptism listed below. These provide historical information about the sacrament and excellent explanations of its meaning.

How Can Sponsors Be Involved with Their Baptized Persons?

  • Remembering anniversary of the baptism through a card, letter, phone call or visit.
  • Noting other life events in a Christian manner, for example, birthdays, graduations, marriage, birth of children, illness, bereavement.
  • Attending worship services with the baptized person, when possible.
  • Expressing an interest in what the baptized person is learning and experiencing in Sunday School or in other settings of religious education.
  • Helping the person learn the basics of Christian worship and practice, such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the Ten Commandments, and the promises of the Baptismal Covenant.
  • Reading and talking with the baptized person about stories from the Bible so the person develops a knowledge and understanding.
  • Talking about how God continually interacts with God’s creation and God’s people.
  • Sharing one’s own spiritual journey and experiences with the baptized person.
  • Being with the baptized person when he or she makes a mature affirmation of faith in the presence of a bishop at some future time. This affirmation includes a public profession of faith by the candidate and a mature acceptance of Christian responsibilities. The Episcopal Church calls this Confirmation.
Almighty end everlasting God,
who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation:
Grant that all who have been reborn into fellowship of Christ’s Body
may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter (BCP, p. 224)

Many variables will influence how sponsors carry out their distinctive role. Agreement about the nature of the role, especially with regard to its particular aspects which will need to be carefully tailored to the specific situation, should be reached by the sponsor and the baptized person, or their parents in the case of infants and young children. This process should begin at the time that the sponsor accepts the invitation to serve. The clergy and people of St. Nicholas Church hope that this guide will serve as a starting paint for such discussion.

The relationship will be shaped by several factors as time goes on. One major influence is how close the baptized person and the sponsor live to each other. Naturally, if the sponsors live far away, they may not be able to be physically present for special events in the baptized person’s life. Compensation can be made, however, through letters, phone calls, and cards that reflect the spiritual support and commitment of the sponsors. The nature of the sponsors’ involvement will change over time and all members of the baptismal family should strive to adapt to such changes and yet maintain ties with one another. Such is the challenge that is laid before participants in baptism. Christians are strengthened through participation in the Church, the Body of Christ, and through caring deeply about God and one another.

Baptism is the moment of new birth into Christ and his Church, moving from darkness toward God’s light, of choosing life instead of death. Baptism is a gift to be remembered with joy and thanksgiving. Thanks be to God that you are part of this gift. Enjoy and rejoice in it!

For Further Study

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Baptismal Themes in the Bible

-Old Testament Passages

-New Testament Passages

Other Books

Many excellent books about baptism are available through your local bookstore or from the St. Nicholas Parish Online Amazon Store. Here are a couple of recommendations: