The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper are means of grace through which God's gracious, forgiving, and nurturing love is freely given to God's people. These sacraments are gifts of God's presence. Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into life with Christ. The Augsburg Confession states that “ the sacraments were instituted not only to be signs by which people might be identified outwardly as Christians, but that they are signs and testimonies of God's will toward us for the purpose of awakening and strengthening our faith" (Article XIII).
Parents who wish to have their child baptized or adults desiring baptism for themselves are encouraged to contact the Minister of the Congregation.
Baptism normally takes place within the regular corporate worship of the congregation. At St. John’s baptisms in the Latvian language worship service may be in both Latvian and English as necessary. Baptisms within the English worship service are in English only.
The theological foundations and practical principles of Baptism in the Lutheran tradition are outlined in the following “Statement on Sacramental Practices” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The Theological Foundations of Baptism
1. The Sacrament of Christian Baptism is grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The institution of Christian Baptism has its source in the Great Commission and in Jesus' own baptism. (Matt. 28:19-20; Matt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-22; John 1:29ff.)
2. In Baptism we die and rise with Christ. God acted in Christ to save us; God acts through Baptism to save us. The baptized are pardoned, cleansed and sanctified in Christ. (Rom. 6:3-5.)
3. In Baptism we are called into the Christian community and incorporated into the body of Christ, in which we are made a new creation, reconciled to God, and entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. The community of the baptized is, therefore, the body of Christ, continuing God's mission in the world and sharing in the hope of the world to come. (1 Cor. 12:12ff; 2 Cor. 5:14-21.)
4. In Baptism God seals us with the Holy Spirit, who nurtures our life of faith until we enter into the full possession of our inheritance. We are born anew, and marked with the cross of Christ forever. (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; John 3:1-8; Rom. 6:1-11.)
5. In Baptism we renounce the powers of darkness and dedicate ourselves to participating in the inbreaking reign of God.
6. A person is baptized once; Baptism is not repeated. Christians live and affirm their Baptism through daily repentance, receiving forgiveness and renewal in the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a daily dying to sin and rising to newness of life.
The Practical Principles of Baptism
1. Baptism is administered with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. In the baptismal celebration water is used generously. A variety of modes is used; pouring and immersion are rich symbols of the nature of Baptism.
3. Candidates for Baptism are those children born to members of the congregation, children for whom other congregational members assume the responsibility of nurture in the faith, and older children or adults who, following preparation and instruction, declare their faith in Jesus Christ and desire Baptism.
4. Baptism is preceded by a period of instruction. Such instruction in faith and life constitutes training in discipleship. When young children are baptized, the parents and sponsors are instructed; otherwise the baptismal candidates themselves are instructed. This training in discipleship continues for the life of the baptized.
5. The celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism ordinarily includes the following: presentation, thanksgiving, renunciation of sin and evil, profession of faith, baptism with water, laying on of hands and invocation of the Holy Spirit, signing with the cross and welcome into the congregation.
6. Baptism normally takes place within the corporate worship of the congregation and is administered by an ordained minister called by the congregation or by an ordained minister granted permission by the former
7. In cases of emergency, a person may be baptized by any Christian in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Should sudden death preclude such a Baptism, we believe the grace of God will prevail.
8. When circumstances require Baptism outside of corporate worship, a public announcement of the Baptism is made at the service the Sunday following. Provision is also made for the use of the rite for Public Recognition of the Baptism at corporate worship (Occasional Services, pp. 17-22).
9. The congregation assumes a sponsoring role for all baptized persons within its local setting. Congregations are encouraged to select at least one sponsor from the congregation for each candidate for Baptism. The parents may select additional sponsors. It is assumed that all sponsors are involved in the faith and life of a Christian community. The primary role of sponsors is to provide spiritual nurture and encourage integration of the baptized into the community of believers.
10. Baptism is affirmed throughout the Christian's life in daily living and in worship. Regular services of the congregation provide opportunities for participation in confession and forgiveness, the celebration of Holy Communion, and the Baptism of others. The rite for Affirmation of Baptism may be used at any time; it is especially appropriate at confirmation, at times of membership reception and restoration, and during the seasons of Lent and Easter.
11. All Baptisms are entered into the permanent records of the congregation and certificates are issued at the time of the administration of the sacrament.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, “Statement on Sacramental Practices”.