Baptism and membership
You can become a member of the body of Christ, the church, by being baptized into it or by reaffirming your baptism. Baptism is a ritual made up of questions and promises, prayer, and washing. In most United Methodist churches the washing is accomplished by sprinkling. Sometimes it is done by pouring or immersion, but you will choose which way you want to be washed. Youth and adults go through a time of preparation and instruction before they are baptized. In the case of infants and children, the parents receive instruction. In this way they are helped to know God, the meaning of being “members of the body,” and what it is they are committing themselves to. Read more about baptism of infants and children.
What happens at baptism?
Baptism initiates a covenant of relationship between God and the baptized person and between the church and the person. When you are baptized or affirm your baptism, the congregation enacts God’s grace toward you and welcomes you into the community of faith. As a response to God’s gracious initiative, you will be asked to pledge your loyalty to the life and ministries of The United Methodist Church and to promise to uphold the local church with your prayers, presence, gifts and service. As a baptized Christian, you will be part of the universal church and part of a particular community of Christians where you are known and watched over in love. Read more about the baptismal liturgy.
As early as the Emmaus experience on the day of Resurrection, recorded in Luke 24:13-35, Christians recognized the presence of Jesus Christ in the breaking of bread. The traditional Jewish practice of taking bread, blessing and thanking God, and breaking and sharing the bread took on new meaning for them. When followers of Christ gathered in Jesus’ name, the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup was a means of remembering his life, death, and resurrection and of encountering the living Christ. They experienced afresh the presence of their risen Lord and received sustenance for their lives as disciples. As the church organized itself, this custom of Eucharist became the characteristic ritual of the community and the central act of its worship. Read more