The Waters of Baptism
In his Convention address last November, Bishop Wayne called on the Diocese of Missouri to live more fully into a theology of the Church based in baptism, which marks the “new” (1979) Book of Common Prayer.
To that end, he has called together a task force on baptism. He has asked the task force to propose to the diocese at the next convention ways of enriching our understanding and experience of baptism (in his address, he quipped that in baptism, someone ought to get pretty wet).
The task force has undertaken several projects
First, we hope by next Convention to curate an installation of artwork that will encourage reflection on what the Church does when it baptizes, and what has happened to each of us in baptism. We hope that congregations will take the opportunity to host the installation around the diocese over the year following Convention.
The task force will also put together a booklet of recommended instruction for baptisands and their sponsors that will focus on baptism as entry into the life and ministry of Christ’s Body, the Church. While the booklet will allow local adaptation, it will provide a kind of minimum expectation, and give clergy and other educators a baseline from which to begin baptismal instruction.
We will also compile a list of scriptural passages and images of baptism, as well as other resources for preaching and teaching about baptism. We will also include material to help parents, educators, clergy and others to do ongoing instruction after baptism, helping the baptized grow into the full stature of Christ.
The task force would also like to compile a list of current practices around baptism as well as some best practices. We would like to know how congregations give liturgical expression to our baptismal ecclesiology. We seek answers to questions like the location of the congregation’s font, if any congregations practice baptism by immersion, whether congregations use chrism for the signing with the cross in baptism, what kind of certificates congregations use, and questions along these lines. We will issue an electronic survey in the coming weeks to each congregation. Clergy should look for it in their email inboxes.
We also hope to use social media to develop ways congregations can share their baptismal practices with one another (for example, multiple congregations or the whole diocese praying for those about to be baptized in any of our congregations, remembering baptismal anniversaries, etc.).
We hope people in the diocese will also use this platform to think about what difference baptism makes in their daily lives.
—by the Rev. Dan Handschy
Members of the task force on baptism are: Dan Handschy, chair, Donna Hawk-Reinhard, Ian Lasch, Kate McCormick, Tamsen Whistler, and Jeff Wunrow.