Baptism in the Orthodox Church
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
even to the close of the age.”
A person contemplating marriage once asked a Russian monk, “Why bring children into this sad world to expose them to all the suffering of fallen humanity?” The monk answered, “we bring children into this world to produce saints, to prepare champions for Christ, If you cannot produce saints, then don’t get married,” he said. This is the purpose of baptism— to prepare champions for Christ.
Baptism is in every way just as important and solemn as birth itself. For this reason it is an event that requires preparation. By far the most important part of preparation for baptism is the parent’s own faith. Just as your baby was born with some of your features and will copy some of your habits, so, as the child grows older, he or she will grow up with your faith.
Because the child is not old enough to understand what is happening in baptism it is very important that both parents and godparents are well instructed in the Orthodox faith that we may “prepare Champions for Christ.”
We bring infants and children to baptism not because they believe but in order that they might believe. Baptism is like the planting of the seed of faith in the human soul. Nourished and fed by Christian training in the family and in the church school, the seed of faith will grow and produce a mature Christian.
Baptism introduces the child to the love of God and opens him to the grace of the Holy Spirit. These are great riches even if the child is unaware of them at the beginning. To deny a child baptism is to deprive him of this inner grace that is so necessary to Christian growth.
Requirements for Godparents
The Church very strongly encourages that the parents of the child choose a godparent who takes seriously the responsibility associated with “preparing Champions for Christ” as evidenced by their participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
Additionally, the Archdiocese of America offers the following regulations regarding Godparents:
A person who wishes to sponsor a candidate for Baptism or Chrismation in the Church must be an Orthodox Christian who:
- is a member of an Orthodox parish (and has fulfilled their stewardship/ financial obligations); and
- is in good sacramental standing with the Orthodox Church.
- If married, must have been married in an Orthodox Church.
- If civilly divorced, must also have an Ecclesiastical divorce- if married in the Orthodox Church.
A person who has been excommunicated or anathematized by the Church or, who, if married, has married outside the Orthodox Church may not become a godparent.
The sponsor, if not a member of St. George, must request a “Letter of Good Standing” from his/her parish priest. It is common practice these days for Churches to fax these letters directly to each other.
During the Sacrament of Baptism the Godparent, on behalf of the child, will accept and confess the Orthodox faith in the Triune God. The spiritual bonds established by baptism between Godparent and Godchild, in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, are of equal standing as are the blood ties between parent and child.
What the Godparent brings to the Service
The following items are required for the Sacrament and are traditionally provided by the Godparent.
- Cross and Chain- Please remember this will be worn by the child throughout his/her life
- One (1) small bottle of olive oil
- Two (2) small hand towels
- One (1) large bath towel
- One (1) large linen sheet
- One (1) small bar “Ivory” soap – Please do not bring “Dove” or any other scented soap.
- One large (1) and two smaller (2) candles. The smaller candles will be held by two children. Please do not assign children younger than 7 to this task.
- One (1) complete change of new (white) clothing, including shoes
- Martyrika- “Witness” pins traditionally given to attendees as memento of this special day
The following honoraria are traditionally the responsibility of the Godparent(s). Please share this information with the Godparent(s) in order to prevent embarrassment on the day of the Sacrament. As there is much confusion following the Baptism, please take care of them before the sacrament.
- Sexton $ 50
- Chanter $ 100
If you choose to give a traditional honorarium to the Priest, please place it in an envelope prior to the service to respect and honor the dignity of the priestly office.
When to arrive at the Church
All the principals- parents, godparents, and grandparents should be at the church at least 20 minutes prior to the beginning of the baptism so that all the necessary articles required for the service may be pre-staged and that the sacrament may proceed on time.
Photographs and Videos
We encourage pictures and videos of this special event in your child’s life. We ask that no flash be used during the ceremony and that the photographer/ videographer not move from the appointed place. Fr John will indicate to the photographer/ videographer when they are to move for certain aspects of the ceremony.
Information Needed for the Baptismal Certificate
Name of Father:
Birthplace of Father:
Name of Mother:
Birthplace of Mother:
Date, Place of Marriage of Parents:
Place of Residence of Parents:
Place of Birth of Child:
Date of Birth of Child:
Name of Child (English):
Name of Child (Greek):
Name of Godparent:
Please, do not assume that Father John will attend the reception following the baptism. It is common courtesy and proper manners to send a formal invitation to him at the Church. He will confirm that he will attend.
Invocations are given BEFORE the salads are served or the buffet line begins. If people have started eating it is bad form and extremely embarrassing to all parties to “suddenly” remember to give God thanksgiving and to bless the food which we are about to receive.
10830 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA 90241-3720