We rejoice together with the rest of the Church, both in heaven and on earth, at the birth and approaching baptism of your child. It is both a rich blessing and a heavy responsibility to initiate a child into the life in Christ which we all enjoy as members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. As the Scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). As you begin this journey, please know that you may always count on the Church and her clergy for encouragement, counsel, and support in this great undertaking.
On the website along with this letter are the documents you need to plan and prepare for your child's baptism. You should read this letter and the other documents included in this file, and then complete and submit the form on the website, along with an updated Stewardship Form and a letter in good standing for the Godparent you have chosen, as soon as possible. The date and time you have requested is not secured until all these materials are received by the Church office.
Below this letter you will find the Baptism Guidelines, which includes all the necessary information for a Greek Orthodox baptism, as well as clarifying the requirements and potential impediments for a prospective Godparent. The selection of the Godparent is the most significant issue to resolve in the planning of a baptism. It is essential that the eligibility of your selected Godparent be confirmed – until this is done, the date you have scheduled for your child’s baptism remains is not secured. The guidelines discuss godparent eligibility in detail, but in summary, the Godparent must be an Orthodox Christian in good sacramental and financial standing with an Orthodox parish that is in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Godparent must also recognize the immense responsibility involved in serving as a Godparent, and willing undertake to ensure that the baptized child grows in the fullness of the Orthodox Christian faith. We recommend that you speak with the priest about your selected Godparents as soon as you have submitted the forms from the website.
Necessary Forms to Complete
1) Linked from here you will find the Baptismal Information Form. This Form should be downloaded, filled out, saved, and either emailed to the Church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or printed and mailed to the Church (St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 16300 Dix Toledo Road, Southgate, MI 48195), as soon as possible. Until we have received this form, together with all supporting documents, the date you have scheduled for your child’s baptism remains tentative.
2) Linked from here is a Stewardship Form for the St. George parish, which you should fill out in full to affirm your membership in the Saint George Church. If you have already filled this out, please instead call and confirm that you are in good standing with the Church.
3) Godparent Good Standing: If your selected Godparent is a member at St. George, they should fill out a Stewardship Form (2) as well. If they are a member at another parish, they should request their parish priest to prepare a Letter in Good Standing for them and send it to St. George by mail, fax, or email. If your chosen Godparent is not an Orthodox Christian in Good Standing, they will not be able to serve as Godparent at the Baptism.
You should submit items 1) and 2) to the Church Office as soon as possible. Once you send them, please call the office to inform us that we have received them both, and to schedule your mandatory pre-baptism meeting with Fr. Anthony. Your selected Godparent must also meet with Fr. Anthony and is welcome to come together with you. In this meeting, we will resolve any outstanding issues and discuss the meaning and significance of baptism and offering our support to you in this journey upon which you are now embarking. If, however, you have any questions prior to or outside of this meeting, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
We look forward to seeing you and anticipate the upcoming baptism with joy. May God bless you, your family, and especially your child who is about to be illumined by the Light of Christ.
With love in Christ,
+Fr. Anthony Cook
Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
"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,…" (Matthew 28:19).
With these words, the Lord sent his disciples as apostles into the world. They were the last words He spoke before His Ascension, and they define the entire life of the Church from that time. In them we see the centrality to the Christian life of the Sacrament of Baptism.
For all that it is central to our life in Christ, Baptism is perhaps the least understood of the Sacraments. We know that it is necessary, but few of our people could say that they truly understand what it means, and why it is the central rite of initiation in the Orthodox Christian Faith.
To understand this, we must return to Christ's baptism. For in His baptism at the hands of John in the Jordan, He prefigured His Death and Resurrection, and at the same time showed us what those great events meant. By immersing Himself in the water, He signifies the harmony, the union between Creator and Creation which He establishes by His presence in our midst, and which was completed in His death and descent into Hades. By rising again from the water, He prophecies His glorious Resurrection, by which He transforms our life, leading us and all creation from Hades into Paradise, from sorrow into rejoicing, from darkness into glory.
In our baptism, then, there is a reciprocity. As Christ joined Himself to our nature, we too now join ourselves to His nature. By our three-fold immersion beneath the water, we die to what we have been before; by our rising again from the water, the love and grace of God is granted to us, bringing transformation and newness of life; and by the invocation of the Holy Trinity as we are immersed and brought up again, we become partakers of the Divine Nature as we gain the title "Christian," or "Christ-like." In our baptism, we experience our own, personal Pascha, dying and rising again with Christ.
After the Baptism, we are Chrismated, receiving the "Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit," in our own personal Pentecost, following which we are tonsured, offering the first of our hair to the Lord, and are then clothed in the white garment of righteousness granted to those who are called by Christ's name and baptized into His life. And finally, we receive Holy Communion for the first time, becoming full communicants and participants in the life of the Church.
Planning a Baptism at the Saint George Parish
To plan a Baptism at St. George, parents should go to the Church website, read these guidelines, and complete a Baptismal Information Form and a Stewardship Form, which they can submit either on the website or print out and mail to the Church office. Once these forms have been submitted to the Church office, the parents and godparent should contact the Church Office to schedule a meeting with Fr. Anthony. Please note that these forms should be completed and submitted AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, as the date for the baptism cannot be secured until they are received at the church office and no outstanding issues are found.
We recommend that infants be baptized between three months and nine months from birth.
The baptismal name of your child should be of Christian/Biblical origin.
The parents and godparents must be Orthodox Christians in good sacramental and financial standing with a canonical Orthodox Church. If not a parishioner of the Saint George parish, a letter from one's home parish should be sent to our church well in advance of the baptism date stating their good standing.
It is required that the parents and godparents meet with the priest prior to the baptism, so that he can explain the sacrament and address any outstanding concerns.
What is Needed for the Baptism
It is customary for the godparents to provide the following. However, some parents may wish to provide some of these items:
White clothes to be worn by the child after baptism
A new white undergarment (t-shirt or one-piece garment)
A baptismal Cross to be worn by the child (not a crucifix)
A new large white bath towel
A new white single bed sheet or crib sheet
A bar of soap
Two new white hand towels
A bottle of olive oil (at least 8.5 oz.)
One large decorated baptismal candle & two or three small decorated candles
Martyrika or witness pins
Honorariam (recommended) donation of $50/each to the Chantor (Ψάλτης) and the Sexton (Νεωκόρος) (responsible for setup and basic cleanup after the service)
After the Baptism
By custom, three days after the Baptism the child is bathed in a tub. The water from this tub must not go in any drain but poured around the foundations of the home or in an area where no one would walk. Care must also be taken with the towels and sheets that were used during the Baptism. These also must be rinsed in a tub before washing conventionally. The water should be disposed of in the same manner mentioned above.
The child is brought to church for the next three Sundays in its baptismal outfit and candle, by the godparents and/or parents to receive Holy Communion. It is expected that the child be brought to church regularly and frequently.
When Baptisms are not Conducted
Baptisms may not be performed from Christmas Day through the feast of Theophany (December 25 to January 6), during Holy Week, or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord. Baptisms may be done during seasons of fasting, such as Great Lent, the Dormition Fast and during the Christmas Advent. However, due to the solemnity and fasting expectations of these days, it is preferred to schedule Baptisms outside these holy seasons. Any questions or concerns may be brought to the priest's attention.