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Child Dedication and Baptism

Child Dedication and Baptism

by Sarah Stewart on March 01, 2024

Child Dedication and Baptism

Are you interested in having your child or children dedicated or baptized? Dedications and baptisms can be part of our worship service on Easter Sunday, March 31, if there are families ready to hold this ceremony for their children. Read more to understand what child dedications and baptism are and how they fit into our life together as a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Welcoming children into our church is one of the greatest joys of congregational life. We welcome them as tiny babies, as bouncing toddlers, as school-age children, and as youth. We welcome them when their parents or guardians become new members; and we welcome them through rituals of dedication and baptism.

Dedication is a Unitarian Universalist ritual that almost all of our churches have come to use in recent decades. It is a misnomer, perhaps, to say we dedicate the child. In fact I believe we dedicate the congregation to the task of helping to rear that child in the values of our faith. This is why I like to dedicate children as part of the Sunday worship service. The parents take vows on behalf of their children, and the congregation promises to help the parents and bring the children into the fold of the church. If the children are old enough to speak for themselves, they, too, promise to try to be kind and helpful to all.

Baptism is an ancient Christian ritual that welcomes people into the faith of Jesus Christ. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, these words are heard from the risen Christ, speaking to his followers: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...(28:18-19).” These words have been understood by Christians in all the centuries since to mark the welcome into the community of Jesus’ followers. In our Unitarian Universalist church, I add these words: “the Love that is around us all, the spark of divinity in every person, and the Spirit that is greater when we are together than when we are alone.”

Baptism is by no means required of anyone in our church. Although we have our roots in the liberal Christian tradition, we welcome people of all backgrounds and traditions, who would support our mission and join in our covenant, into First Unitarian Church. Even at our communion ceremonies twice a year, baptism is not required to be welcome at the table. Our church is open to all.

In our church, we dedicate children; and if the parents wish, I will baptize the children.  I use water to bless the children in either case. The church presents the child with a thornless rose bud, a symbol of the protection and love that we strive to offer to children. And to conclude the ceremony, the congregation responds:

The Love which lives in us and among us receives you into the Church. Children of the Holy, blessed in the Spirit, welcome to the family of faith. May you grow in wisdom and understanding; love, patience and gentleness; wonder and joy. Amen.

If you would like to talk to me about a dedication or baptism ceremony for your child, especially for this Easter Sunday, please e-mail me at or call (508) 757-2708.

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