A person is incorporated into the universal church, the body of Christ, through the sacrament of baptism. The water, words, and actions of the sacrament are visible signs that convey the Christian’s burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ.
In the United Church of Christ people are baptized either as children or adults. We recognize any baptism by water in the name of the Trinity as valid and do not “re-baptize” children or adults.
A service of baptism is normally part of a Sunday morning worship service. Only in cases of emergency will baptisms be conducted in a context other than a regularly scheduled worship service of the congregation. While there is no membership requirement to be baptized in our congregation, those who are baptized (or their family in the case of infants and young children) are expected to participate actively in the life of the congregation.
When an infant or young child is baptized, one or both parents, and sometimes sponsors (also called Godparents), make promises to assume certain responsibilities for the Christian nurture of the baptized child. In the case of older children or adults, those being baptized make similar promises for themselves. The congregation also promises to participate actively in the nurture and Christian formation of those who are baptized. Because we take these promises seriously, one or both parents should be actively participating in our congregation. These promises are about a relationship that we take seriously.
Baptisms are scheduled by contacting the pastor. While we seek to schedule baptisms at a time when extended family and friends can be present to witness the sacrament, there are seasons when we do not normally schedule baptisms such as during Lent.There are also occasions when baptisms are especially appropriate. Planning well in advance and in consultation with the pastor is recommended.
When parents desire to have their child baptized at First Congregational UCC, La Crosse, because of historic or family connection to the congregation, they should confer with the pastor and explain how they intend to keep the vows of Christian nurture that are made at the baptism in the context of another Christian community. Only in exceptional circumstances may such cases be approved by the pastor.
A more appropriate alternative may be a formal service of blessing and thanksgiving for the child. Since this is not a baptism, and no baptismal promises are being made, there is no requirement that the family participate in the life of this congregation. We provide such a service as an expression of our joy and thanksgiving for the connection we have shared through past membership or present family relations, and the ongoing relationship we share spiritually in Christ.
There are no fees associated with baptisms or blessing services.