Renewal of Baptism vows

This service has been adapted from the closing worship service at the 2014 Cardiff Assembly of the United Reformed Church in Great Britain, where all those gathered had the opportunity to renew their baptism vows.  A young adult, who will be referred to as ‘Londiwe,’  approached me, their minister, having had a transformative spiritual experience.  As there is no standard or regular ritual of confirmation in the United Reformed Church, Londiwe initially asked to be re-baptised as she had been baptised as an infant.  But I guided Londiwe toward a confirmation and renewal of the vows originally taken by parents on Londiwe’s behalf.  And, with Londiwe’s agreement, we used it as an opportunity to invite others to renew their baptism promises, too —  Ana Gobledale, UK

Order of Service

Welcome & Introduction

Today we celebrate the Renewal of Baptism Vows.

Everyone will be invited to share in the opportunity and to come forward, as for an altar call, to renew your own baptismal vows.

Today’s service arose when Londiwe, having been touched by God in a special way, wanted to mark this special event in their life.  (The special event or experience might be described briefly at this time.)  As they had already been baptised, we began speaking of renewing their baptism vows in front of the congregation here in the church.

In the waters of baptism, we remember Jesus’s baptism by John in the river Jordan, and the life-giving water promised to each of us.  Some of us have been baptised by sprinkling, others by immersion, all with the water of life.

Bible & Church References

We hear words from Jesus, said to his disciples: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Creator and of the Christ and of the Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.      (Matthew 28:18-20a)

In the World Council of Reformed Churches statement on baptism, it is written: ‘With the whole church we affirm … the waters of baptism as a sign and seal of the promises of God.’   WCRC 4.2

As we share in baptism, we share in the mystery of Jesus’s death and resurrection, however those are understood and experienced.

We share in the freedom from bondage to self and the opening, the revealing, of the way to relationship and purpose.

Prayer

Eternal One,

Thank you for the Spirit, the Spirit of joy,

that teaches us and leads us into all truth.

Thank you for gathering us into church,

a community with a heart for justice and peace.

Thank you for each person in this community,

named and interwoven into this body

through faith, action and your love.

May our renewal of baptism vows today

bring renewed direction and purpose to our lives,

lived out as your people.  Amen.

Testimony

I invite Londiwe to come forward now and share with us their testimony of faith.

Londiwe shares a written testimony or story of their experiences that brought them to this point.

Presentation to Congregation    (standing beside Londiwe)

Londiwe, a beloved child of God!

Let the congregation say, Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Amen! Amen!

Hymn     Choose a hymn familiar to the congregation at baptism services.

Baptism hymn option (using inclusive language):  In this Sacrament with Water by George Stuart, Australia

Invitation 

Everyone is now invited to share in the opportunity to renew their baptismal vows.

As we sing our next hymn, anyone who would like to come forward to renew your baptism vows, is welcome to join Londiwe.  We will be offering the sign of the cross, using water, on your forehead.  If you are not able to come forward and would like [this blessing with water OR to participate in this ritual of renewal and recommitment], let a steward know so that we can come to you.

Questions – to those who have come forward

You have come forward to renew your baptism vows in response to the call of Jesus and the leading of the Spirit.  Let us now hear what you believe.

These questions or others arising from your context may be used.

  1. Do you desire to commit yourself anew in the Christian faith and family of God? I do.
  2. Do you believe and trust in God, that which creates, guides and sustains all creation? If yes, please respond by saying   I do.
  3. Do you believe that Jesus teaches and demonstrates love, and do you desire to follow on that path?   I do.
  4. Do you believe/ confess… using questions familiar to the congregation usually used at a baptism. I do.

Statement of Commitment – by those who have come forward

From the beginning, those who have been baptised have continued in the worship and community of the Church. With God’s help, let us commit ourselves anew to this life.  (Read together or repeat line by line.)

I accept the gift and cost of following Jesus in my daily life and work;

And with the whole Church, I will proclaim, by word and action, God’s mercy and love.

Prayer over the Water  

(A child assists by lifting the pitcher and pouring the water into the font. Help the child lift the pitcher up quite so all can see the water flowing out. Be sure to practice ahead of time.)

God of all creation, you amaze us.

You give us water to sustain our life and renew the earth.

May this water, ordinary water, become special in this extraordinary event.  May each person receiving the sign of the cross upon them, be renewed and revived, by this, the water of life.  Amen.

Song    Let there be love shared among us (or other baptism-related faviourite)

The Ritual with Water

  • Action: Make the sign of the cross with water on each person’s forehead or back of hand, as they desire.
  • Affirmation: Say to each person:  You are a beloved child of God.

Prayer   (in unison, or read by one person after all have received the mark)

We give you thanks, Eternal One, mother and father of us all, for the grace acknowledged here today in water and spirit.  Embrace us all as daughters and sons, children in the one household of your love.  Grant us strength for life’s journey, courage in the challenging times and delight when life seems easy. May we experience the joy of faith and the freedom of love. Amen. 

Closing song    Choose an appropriate song.