Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements - in this case, water - as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the act of initiation and incorporation into the universal church of Jesus Christ, The AME Church, and the local congregation, as the baptismal covenant makes very clear. Hence, as Methodist we believe In infant baptism, in which God claims the child with divine grace. Clearly the child can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God's grace, as we all are — whatever our age. In believer's baptism (adult baptism), the person being baptized is publicly professing her or his own decision to accept Christ. Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual's decision.
Here are a few things that will be helpful when thinking about Baptism:
- Methodist recognize three methods of baptism, hence our church has always offered to people being baptized (and to the parents of infants) the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Sprinkling is most common in the case of infants, but the person being baptized (or their sponsors) can choose the method most meaningful to them.
- As an AME Church, Reid Temple recognizes the baptism of other Christian denominations. We DO NOT re-baptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form.
- It is Reid Temple’s policy to baptize infants or children of non-members, with the consent of the parent(s)/legal guardian wherein a member of the church is willing to make a vow to bring the child to church, so that the congregation can honor their covenant vow as a community of faith.
It is our denomination practice to Baptize and not "Dedicate." Dedication is a human act — something we pledge or give to God. Baptism is a divine act, a pledge and gift God gives to us. Baptism includes vows of dedication, but chiefly it celebrates what God is doing and will do.