GCI: Baptism

A baptism service can take place during the worship service or at any convenient location and time. In our congregations, the pastor usually attends and officiates at baptisms. The pastor must authorize all baptisms, but anyone the pastor designates may perform or participate in the ceremony.

The setting for the baptism should be easily accessible. It is best for the minister to arrive at the location before the individual(s) to be baptized. Greet the person(s) to be baptized warmly and put them at ease.

Baptism is a joyous ceremony, and the minister should set a positive tone. Be sure to meet any relatives or friends who come to witness the baptism.

Advise the individual(s) to wear appropriate clothing which they do not mind getting wet and will be appropriate to the occasion.


One or more of the following scriptural passages may be read.

  • Matthew 28:16-20
  • Mark 1:9-11
  • Acts 2:32-39
  • Romans 6:1-10
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22

In a short prayer, the officiant asks God’s blessing on this joyous occasion.

Officiant might say some words of explanation to the group:

Christ purchased the life of each person nearly 2,000 years ago, through his life, death and resurrection on behalf of all humanity. The Holy Spirit has been working in this person’s life already, and baptism is simply the ceremony by which we publicly acknowledge the truth of who we are—that we already belong to Christ, that he has already washed all our sins away, and that he has already given us new life. It is a happy occasion in which we rejoice in what Jesus has done for each of us.

After the prayer, the officiant asks:  “Do you, [person’s full name], believe that God has forgiven all your sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus is your personal Savior?”

Individual responds: “Yes”

Officiant asks: “Do you believe that Jesus is in the Father, and you are in Jesus, and Jesus is in you?”

Individual responds: “Yes.”

Officiant asks: “Do you believe that your Father in heaven has adopted you in his Son Jesus, baptized you in his Holy Spirit, and made you his beloved child in Jesus?”

Individual responds: “Yes”

Officiant states: “ _______________________ (person’s full name), I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The person is then immersed in the water.

Most baptisms will take place either in a tub or pool of some sort. If in a tub, assist the individual to enter the water and be seated. Then you may wish to kneel beside the tub in order to avoid straining your back when you lower the person into the water.

If the place of baptism is a pool or some other environment in which the minister needs to enter the water, stand in the pool with the individual and follow the above instructions, bearing in mind that the person will be standing rather than seated, so you will expect to be supporting more of his/her weight. You might want to ask the individual to bend at the knees during the submersion to assist in supporting his/her own weight.

Ask the individual to clasp the elbow of one arm with the hand of the other, and hold the nose with the free hand. Once you are sure the person is comfortable, as well as mentally and physically prepared, place one of your hands behind the back of the individual, and grasp a shoulder with the other. Then gently lower the person into the water and quickly bring him/her up again.

The officiant concludes the service by laying hands on the shoulders or head of the person who was baptized and offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the new believer, for God’s love in sending Jesus for our salvation, and for the Holy Spirit whom the Father sends to be with us and in us.

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