7567836(1)](/assets/getordained/blog/scaled/couple-holds-baby-to-minister-baptism.jpg){.wp-image-585 .size-medium .alignleft width=300 height=201}In most Christian traditions, and in some other religions as well, it is not strictly necessary for a member of the clergy to perform a rite such as baptism. In the moments before death, a time when it is not uncommon for a person to request the sacrament, a layperson with some knowledge of the requirements may do. In such a situation, however, it may be that much more comforting for an ordained minister to be available to help the dying person with their wish for a blessing.

A Simple Definition

The baptism of Jesus Christ by John signifies the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and is a deeply meaningful ritual in the Christian church. Different sects have different guidelines, including when baptism may be performed and how much water is necessary to perform the rite. When a person asks to be baptized before dying, the specifics of the process may be modified somewhat to accommodate a pressing need, which is to provide a spiritual cleansing and a blessing to a human being before death. The act of baptism may reassure individuals and help them feel release from some of their burden.

When to Baptize

Have a baptism emergency? As an ordained minister, you are qualified in most cases to perform the service. Some churches may not acknowledge the baptism if you perform the rite in lieu of a clergy member of the person's own church, if that member had been available. As a rule, however, no matter the spiritual practice of the dying person, it is a tremendous kindness to step in at this moment to offer a blessing. Do so when:

  • There is an urgent request
  • A person is worried about their impending death and seeks a blessing
  • The person's regular clergy member is unavailable

What to Do

In order to administer baptism, you must have the sincere intention of doing so. While this may seem obvious, it is important for the solemnity of the occasion to affirm your intention, even to yourself. A valid baptism does not occur, for example, through play acting or by simply following steps.

The next important element is water. Baptisms may happen through immersion, by a sprinkling of water, or by having it poured over the head, depending on the tradition. At a deathbed, it is likely you would administer the water by hand.

Before you begin, you may ask the person if he or she has already been baptized. If not, you may proceed with the blessing. Most commonly, a formula is followed that reflects Matthew 28:19. You may say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," while washing the person three times with the water.

What Not to Do

It may be considered a gift to be able to offer baptism to someone in their time of need. Regardless of religious affiliation, or whether someone even has a connection to a spiritual organization, a rite that demonstrates cleansing and release can be a soothing balm in times of great distress. It may help to further acknowledge and dignify a momentous occasion, which is a person's passing. While the rite may be a simple one, there are some things to avoid:

  • Do not baptize anyone who has not requested it
  • Do not baptize someone who is not conscious
  • Do not knowingly baptize someone who has already been baptized
  • Do not ask for a confession
  • Do not ask for evidence of repentance
  • Do not attempt to personally assess the person's worthiness to be baptized

The rite of baptism may give solace and comfort in someone's last moments. The ability to confidently step in at such a time may be a great help.

Category: Get Ordained Baptism

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