Q. Is this child “dedication” or “baptism?”
A. We’re leaving this decision up to parents. Some Christian traditions practice child dedication, others practice infant baptism. We do not see this difference as an issue to be overly concerned about. At the heart of both practices are parents making a solemn commitment to raise their child in the faith – to identify their child with Jesus and the promises of God, and to do their best (with God’s help, and with the support of their faith community) to raise their child to follow Jesus. At VP we’d rather celebrate a parent’s desire to make this commitment rather than get uptight about which practice is the “right” one. More directly, we get way more excited about “what” parents are choosing to do rather than “how” they choose to do it. So we let parent decide if they want to “dedicate” or “baptize” (using the sprinkling of water) their child.
Q. What does a typical celebration include?
A. A couple times a year we will take time during a morning gathering to celebrate child dedications and baptisms. Often we will do them either at the beginning of the gathering, or after the singing. The celebration will typically begin with some Scripture reading and context for the occasion, along with acknowledgement of the commitment participating parents are making when deciding to dedicate or baptize their children. There is also usually some acknowledgment of commitment from the gathered community of faith. Parents will have a chance to share too. A pastor will then facilitate the dedicating or baptism of each child.
Q. Is there an “age limit” for children?
A. While dedication/baptism usually takes place with infants, it is also appropriate for young children. Obviously, dedicating or baptizing a child is a decision that parents make as a visible sign of their commitment to raise their child to know and follow Jesus. As a child reaches school-age and/or is able to decide for him/herself to follow Jesus, we would steer that child toward our “Going Public” event rather than child dedication/baptism.