The church baptizes children of current church members and grandchildren of current church members (providing the child’s parents are active members of another congregation). To learn more about scheduling a baptism or to speak with a pastor, please contact Janet Heasley (814-238-2422).
What is Baptism for a Presbyterian?
Baptism is union with Christ. It testifies that we are joined in Christ’s death and resurrection, and, by God’s act, share all Christ’s benefits. Through baptism, our sins are symbolically washed away, and we are welcomed into the family of God, receiving God’s eternal forgiveness. Baptism is rebirth, renouncing evil, and accepting the lifelong struggle against sin.
The Presbyterian Church baptizes both infants and adults. It is the same sacrament in either case. Each person is baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” one of the most ancient and universally used formulas in the Christian church. Adults who have not been baptized present themselves and receive the Sacrament of Baptism when they make a public statement of belief and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This often occurs at the same time they become members of the church.
When we baptize children, we declare that God loves us even before we are old enough to understand. Children are presented by their parents, who profess their faith and promise to teach their children according to their Christian beliefs. Later, at an appropriate age, the children can make their own profession of faith, confirming the secret work of the Spirit and the mystery of the sacrament.
Baptism is celebrated as part of a public worship service, and the members of the congregation are more than just spectators; they have an important role. The congregation promises to nurture the new disciple or child in faith and to tell him or her the good news of the gospel through both word and action.
How is Baptism a Sign and a Seal?
Throughout our history, humans have used a variety of signs and symbols to signify belonging or acceptance into one or another group. Receiving such a sign usually means having met certain requirements or having made promises to follow a particular code of conduct or loyalty to others in the group or the ideals they profess. We are familiar with many of these: a pilot’s wings, a fraternity/sorority pin, a scouting badge, an engagement or wedding ring.
Presbyterians, like other Christians, believe baptism with water is the sign we were given by God to symbolize the cleansing of sin and adoption into the family of the church. The water of baptism reminds us of the waters of creation, the Flood, and the Exodus from Egypt, and of God’s promises to previous generations. When the water dries, it leaves no visible mark, yet it signifies God’s faithfulness to us and our promise to be faithful to God. It is both a sign of God’s grace and a seal of God’s promises.
If I were Baptized in another Church, would I have to be Baptized again to be a Presbyterian?
Baptism is practiced only once. Presbyterians believe that all Christians belong to one universal church. We recognize all baptisms that are done with water in other Christian churches as legitimate. There may be times, however, when you will choose to remember your baptism and reaffirm the promises made by you, or on your behalf if you were baptized as a child. We should remember our own baptism each time we participate in another’s baptism. Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), there are also special services for the renewal of baptismal vows. These services take place in a worship setting where all the members reaffirm their vows as a covenant people redeemed by Christ and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.
The Sacrament of Baptism unifies the people as a community of faith, reminding each of his, her, and our commitments as Christians. Baptism, while it signifies belonging or membership, is also a commission to share what belonging means in our life in the world. By fulfilling our promise to guide, teach, and nurture the newly baptized person, we learn and grow in our own faith and understanding.
A Special Baptism Event
On July 10, 2016 SCPC family and friends gathered at Greenwood Furnace to celebrate baptism by immersion ~ a joyful event!