e-book Faith Forming Faith: Bringing New Christians to Baptism and Beyond

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It is a crucifying of the "old Adam", by which the power of sin is broken. It is the sacrament of nurture of the life of faith in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is the inauguration of "growth into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" Eph. It is "transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit into his likeness" 2 Cor.

Faith Forming Faith: Bringing New Christians To Baptism And Beyond

It is liberation into a new humanity. It is a sign and seal of our common discipleship. Moreover, in the act of baptism there are clear formational responsibilities indicated for the entire community of faith. Parents promise to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The whole congregation pledges itself to provide an exemplary environment of witness and service.

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Within, and beyond, the community of faith those baptized are led into a life of moral witnessing. As the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document says, they are "pardoned, cleansed and sanctified by Christ, and are given as part of their baptismal experience a new ethical orientation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit". Baptism is a local event with ecumenical implications. It is at once the rite of entry into membership in the local congregation and into membership in the universal church.

We have come to the point of very widespread acceptance of one another's baptisms. Does this not also imply a sense of common sharing in the formation which baptism implies? The theme of moral formation, so intimately tied to participation in the liturgy of the eucharist, is through our common baptism shown to be an ecumenically shared reality.

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  • Although there are many readings and interpretations of, a multiplicity of perspectives upon, Christ's presence in history, our common acceptance of baptism shows us that the task of formation in Jesus Christ is inherently one, a task shared by the entire church. The discipleship into which we are initiated at baptism transcends denominational and confessional boundaries.

    We thereby enter into union with Christ, with each other, and with the church of every time and place.

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    In Vermont, members of a Lutheran church removed cars and appliances that had been dumped in a nearby stream and restored its banks with local willows and oaks. Across the country, water has become more than a ritual element used in Christian baptismal rites or in Jewish and Muslim cleansing ceremonies.

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    • The water initiative resonates with congregations, many of which have already made other environmental commitments, said Stacey Kennealy, who directs Water Shield. At the interfaith camp at St. Her United Church of Christ congregation also uses a baptismal liturgy she created that includes a commitment to water preservation. They use rain barrels in their garden and have pledged to reduce the use of chemical pesticides on church property.

      Susette Horspool, a water consultant and environmental writer, said she joined the church after learning about its water and social justice initiatives. Church of the Atonement in Tenafly, N.