First United Methodist Church of Austin offers two services related to the birth or adoption of a child:
- The Service of Blessing and Thanksgiving
- The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
The Service of Blessing and Thanksgiving:
In this service, the church affirms that every child is a beloved child of God, welcomes the child into the larger human community that is the family of God, blesses the Child in God’s name and offers our support and encouragement in the responsibilities of parenthood. Any parent, whether a member of the church or not, is welcome to request this service for his or her child. It is especially appropriate for those parents not yet ready to take on the responsibilities entailed by Christian baptism. The Service of Blessing and Thanksgiving is a brief act of worship, either within the Sunday morning service or conducted privately within the context of family and close friends at another time and place.
The Sacrament of Baptism
The Sacrament of Baptism marks the entrance of a person into the family of Christ , the Church, the covenant community committed to making God’s grace known to the world. It marks the ‘birth,’ or enlistment, of a disciple as a member of Christ’s team to transform the world. As such, it requires a higher level of commitment on the part of parents than does the Service of Blessing and Thanksgiving. At least one parent must be an active member of the church. Active membership means participating regularly in the life and ministries of the church with one’s prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
While all five vows of membership are important, presence is fundamental. If the parents are not regularly present in worship and in small groups for study and fellowship, it is difficult for them or the congregation to fulfill the vows made at their child’s baptism; and, in the absence of regular participation in the life of the church, the child is unlikely to grow into the fully committed disciple that baptism anticipates. At FUMC, we use being present in worship at least twelve times a year, or about once a month, as a rough minimum guideline as to what regular attendance looks like in our congregation. Of course, there are always rare instances where a parent’s work schedule prevents attendance at Sunday worship. In such cases, the pastors will be glad to discuss the situation with the parent or guardian.
Persons seeking baptism for their children must attend a baptism preparation class, led by Reverend Taylor Fuerst and Lara Greene, in which the rich meaning of baptism is carefully explained–what God promises to us in this sacrament and what we promise to God. In addition, families will be able to connect with others in our church who have young children. First Church offers this class twice a year, or as needed. For more information, email Lara Greene at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (512) 478-5684, ext. 211.