Baptism in the United Methodist Church: Grace from God


Let us start by stating that the Sacraments are the expression of God’s Grace and God’s unconditional love. Therefore, these are undeserved gifts from God to humankind. Sacraments differ from ordinances because Sacraments are God’s actions (gifts), but ordinances are humans’ actions (obedience). This aspect differentiates the Methodist understanding of baptism from other Christian beliefs, for example.

Therefore, our church recognizes only two Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. Why two Sacraments? Because Jesus participated in those and Jesus also commanded us to do the same.

Baptism is an identity mark that we are children of God, we are Christian, and we have been initiated in the Christian Church. Baptism also brings a sense of welcome that we belong to God’s community. 

Why do we baptize children? Among other reasons, Apostle Paul and the book of Acts talk about entire families being baptized. God offers the person the Prevenient Grace and that is why people receive baptism. This is a celebration and recognition of the Prevenient Grace given by God, a mystery in which no human will will intervene. Also, and again, as we recognize Baptism as a Sacrament, not as an ordinance, we baptize children.

When do human beings accept this Grace of God? We have the freedom to accept or reject this gift from God. Confirmation is the moment in which we confirm our baptism, when we accept the undeserved gift from God.

However, although we baptize children, if there is someone who has not been baptized, that person can be baptized as an adult. We do not re-baptize people. Once a person has been baptized in a Christian Church in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that person is baptized forever and is recognized like that by the UMC. 

Do we only baptize by pouring water on? The United Methodist Church accepts Baptism by immersion (complete submersion in water), sprinkling (most common) or pouring water on or over the person’s head.

This Sunday we will have the Congregational Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant Service at Trinity. Let’s celebrate together the Grace of God given to us! 


Pr. David Gaitan

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