Handbook 2:
Administering the Church

 

20.3 Baptism and Confirmation

 20.3.1

Children Who Are Members of Record

Under the direction of the presiding authority, children who are members of record should be baptized and confirmed on or as soon after their 8th birthday as reasonable. These are children for whom Church membership records already exist.

Bishops give special attention to 7-year-old children in the ward, ensuring that their parents, Primary leaders and teachers, and home teachers help them prepare for baptism and confirmation. Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders also encourage parents to teach and prepare their children for these ordinances. When children reach age 8, the bishop makes sure they have every opportunity to accept the gospel and be baptized and confirmed.

 20.3.2

Converts

Converts should be baptized and confirmed when they have met the qualifications outlined in “Interview Instructions” in Handbook 1, 16.3.3.

Convert baptisms are defined as baptisms of (1) persons ages 9 and older who have never been baptized and confirmed and (2) children age 8 whose parents are not members or are being baptized and confirmed at the same time as the children.

 20.3.3

Baptism and Confirmation Interviews

The bishop or an assigned counselor conducts interviews for the baptism and confirmation of 8-year-old children who are members of record and 8-year-old children who are not members of record but have at least one parent or guardian who is a member.

Full-time missionaries interview converts (as defined in 20.3.2) for baptism and confirmation.

Interview instructions are provided in Handbook 1, 16.3.3.

 20.3.4

Baptismal Services

Baptismal services should be simple, brief, and spiritual. Normally, ward or stake leaders conduct monthly baptismal services for all 8-year-old children of record in the ward or stake. Members should not request special or individual times or prescribe the content of baptismal services.

People who may be invited to a baptismal service include family members, other relatives, friends, priesthood leaders, home teachers, visiting teachers, auxiliary officers and teachers who will be working with the new member, and investigators who are being taught. Other ward members may also attend.

Baptismal services should not be scheduled on Monday evenings.

Services That Involve Only One Ward

For Eight-Year-Old Children of Record. A member of the bishopric presides over baptismal services for 8-year-old children of record when the services involve only one ward.

A member of the bishopric oversees the planning of these baptismal services. He may conduct the services or assign the ward mission leader to conduct. Primary leaders may help plan the services under the direction of the bishopric.

For Converts. If possible, a member of the bishopric attends each convert baptismal service. When the services involve only one ward, he presides unless a member of the stake presidency attends.

Under the direction of the bishopric, the ward mission leader usually works with the full-time missionaries to plan these baptismal services. A member of the bishopric or the ward mission leader usually conducts the services. If none of these ward leaders are available, full-time missionary district or zone leaders may plan and conduct the services with the approval of the mission president.

Services That Involve More Than One Ward

For Eight-Year-Old Children of Record. A member of the stake presidency usually presides over baptismal services for 8-year-old children of record when the services involve more than one ward. However, the stake presidency may authorize a high councilor to preside. A member of the bishopric from each of the wards involved should attend.

The stake presidency may assign a high councilor to oversee the planning of the services and to conduct them. Primary leaders may help plan these services under the direction of the presiding officers.

For Converts. A member of the stake presidency usually presides over baptismal services for converts when the services involve more than one ward. However, the stake presidency may authorize a high councilor to preside. A member of the bishopric from each of the wards involved should attend.

The stake presidency may assign a high councilor or a bishop to oversee planning of the services and to conduct them.

Scheduling Baptismal Services for Converts

Baptismal services should be scheduled as soon as an investigator has committed to be baptized. The services should not normally be delayed past this date unless a person is not prepared. Baptisms of family members should not be delayed so the father can receive the priesthood and perform the baptisms himself.

Baptismal services for converts should be scheduled through the ward mission leader. If a service is scheduled on a Sunday, it should be held at a time that minimizes interference with regular Sunday meetings.

Elements of a Baptismal Service

A baptismal service may include:

  1. 1.

    Prelude music.

  2. 2.

    A brief welcome by the priesthood leader who is conducting the service.

  3. 3.

    An opening hymn and prayer.

  4. 4.

    One or two short talks on gospel subjects, such as baptism and the Holy Ghost.

  5. 5.

    A musical selection.

  6. 6.

    Performance of the baptism (see 20.3.8).

  7. 7.

    A time of reverence while the people who participated in the baptism change into dry clothes. This could include interlude music or singing of well-known hymns and Primary songs. It could also include a brief gospel presentation by the full-time missionaries for nonmembers who may be present.

  8. 8.

    Performance of the confirmation (for 8-year-old members of record only, if they will not be confirmed in a fast and testimony meeting; see 20.3.9 and 20.3.10).

  9. 9.

    An opportunity for new converts to bear their testimonies, if desired.

  10. 10.

    A closing hymn and prayer.

  11. 11.

    Postlude music.

 20.3.5

Baptismal Fonts

Missionaries coordinate their use of a baptismal font with the agent bishop or with another person designated by the stake presidency. The schedule for using a font should permit missionaries to baptize once a week or more often, if necessary. However, missionaries should not expect to use a font at unreasonable times. No charge is made for using a baptismal font.

A responsible adult should be present while the baptismal font is filling and remain until it is empty and secured. The font should be drained and cleaned immediately after each baptismal service. Appropriate safety precautions should be taken whenever water is in the font.

When the font is not in use, all doors to it should be closed and locked.

When a baptismal font is not available, any body of water that is safe may be used for a baptism if it is large enough to immerse the person and to permit the priesthood holder who performs the baptism to stand in the water with the person. Water is not dedicated for baptisms.

 20.3.6

Clothing for Baptism

A person who performs a baptism and a person who is baptized wear white clothing that does not appear transparent when it is wet. An endowed person wears the temple garment under this clothing while performing a baptism.

Local units should have baptismal clothing available and should not charge for its use. This clothing is purchased with budget funds. The bishop may ask members to clean and mend the clothing.

 20.3.7

Witnesses of a Baptism

Two priests or Melchizedek Priesthood holders witness each baptism to make sure it is performed properly. The baptism must be repeated if the words are not spoken exactly as given in Doctrine and Covenants 20:73 or if part of the person’s body or clothing is not immersed completely.

 20.3.8

Instructions for Performing a Baptism

Under the direction of the presiding authority, a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder may perform the ordinance of baptism. To do so, he:

  1. 1.

    Stands in the water with the person to be baptized.

  2. 2.

    Holds the person’s right wrist with his left hand (for convenience and safety); the person who is being baptized holds the priesthood holder’s left wrist with his or her left hand.

  3. 3.

    Raises his right arm to the square.

  4. 4.

    States the person’s full name and says, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (D&C 20:73).

  5. 5.

    Has the person hold his or her nose with the right hand (for convenience); then the priesthood holder places his right hand high on the person’s back and immerses the person completely, including the person’s clothing.

  6. 6.

    Helps the person come up out of the water.

Convert baptisms are usually performed by a priesthood holder in the ward or by one of the missionaries who taught the person. A convert may also request that another qualified member perform the baptism.

 20.3.9

Confirmation and the Gift of the Holy Ghost

A person is confirmed a member of the Church and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost after being baptized (see D&C 20:41). A person becomes a member of the Church only after the ordinances of baptism and confirmation are both completed and properly recorded (see John 3:5; D&C 33:11).

The bishop holds the keys for confirming 8-year-old members of record. The mission president holds the keys for confirming converts. However, the bishop oversees the performance of this ordinance, whether it is for an 8-year-old member of record or a convert. The bishop ensures that it is performed soon after baptism.

Eight-year-old members of record may be confirmed at the baptismal service or in a sacrament meeting in the ward where they live, preferably a fast and testimony meeting.

Converts are confirmed in any sacrament meeting in the ward where they live, preferably on the Sunday following their baptism. Converts are not confirmed at the baptismal service.

At least one member of the bishopric participates in this ordinance. When missionary elders have taught a convert, the bishop should invite them to participate.

The bishop does not conduct a separate interview for this ordinance.

 20.3.10

Instructions for Performing a Confirmation

Under the direction of the bishopric, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders may participate in a confirmation. They place their hands lightly on the person’s head. Then the person who performs the ordinance:

  1. 1.

    States the person’s full name.

  2. 2.

    States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  3. 3.

    Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  4. 4.

    Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” (not “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”).

  5. 5.

    Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.

  6. 6.

    Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

 20.3.11

Baptism and Confirmation Record and Certificate

When the bishop or an assigned counselor interviews an 8-year-old child, he fills out the Baptism and Confirmation Record according to instructions with the form. After the baptism and confirmation, the ward clerk uses the information on the Baptism and Confirmation Record to update the child’s membership record.

When a full-time missionary interviews a convert baptismal candidate, he completes all of the Baptism and Confirmation Record except the information about confirmation. At the baptismal service, the missionaries give this form to the bishop or one of his counselors. After the confirmation, the bishop or ward clerk completes the confirmation information. The ward clerk then returns two copies of the form to the full-time missionaries. The missionaries send one copy to the mission office for the creation of a membership record.

Proper completion and distribution of the Baptism and Confirmation Record are essential for updating or creating membership records.

After the confirmation, the ward clerk prepares a baptism and confirmation certificate. The bishop signs the certificate, and he or the clerk gives it to the new member.

A person’s legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the Baptism and Confirmation Record and on the certificate.