Baptism & Church Membership
“Baptism is the sacrament of initiation and incorporation into the body of Christ. After baptism, the church provides the nurture that makes possible a comprehensive and lifelong process of growing in grace.”
The 2012 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, ¶216.1
Because we believe baptism is “the sacrament of initiation and incorporation,” we believe that adults, youth, children, and infants are proper candidates for baptism. We believe that a person is never too young to be initiated and incorporated into the body of Christ. However, we also believe that the body of Christ, the church, has a great responsibility to nurture each newly baptized person—regardless of his or her age—so that he or she can continue to grow in God’s love and grace.
When infants or children are baptized, we nurture them with the expectation that they will someday profess their faith and commit to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. We call that commitment confirmation, when the young people confirm their faith in Jesus and their willingness to live as members of the body. Prior to this confirmation experience, we call baptized children and youth “baptized members” of the congregation.
A crucial part of their confirmation—or of any person’s life of faith—is a “profession of faith,” or an acknowledgement before and within the congregation that the person confesses Jesus Christ as savior, puts his or her whole trust in Jesus’ grace, and promises to serve Jesus as Lord.
When a person who has been baptized professes faith in Jesus Christ, he or she can be welcomed as a “professing member” of the congregation. Of course, we welcome members in good standing of other United Methodist congregations or Christian denominations to become professing members of our congregation by simply transferring their membership from their previous church home.