Baptismal Service

A BCC fanboy solicits your advice:

My eldest daughter’s baptism is coming up in a few months.  I have always found the standard baptism program so generic and un-memorable.  I really want to do something different and special for her.  But I’m not a believer in rocking the boat just for the sake of it.  I really want this to be memorable for my daughter and those attending, including many non-members and likely many non-Christians.  What I’d really like would be for my daughter to walk away feeling the experience was really special, the non-members to walk away feeling like they’ve just seen something sacred that taught and lifted them up whether or not they believe it, and traditional members to walk away feeling “wow, that was different, but so right and appropriate”.  Ideally I’d like the baptismal program and post-program mingling to include elements of our unique cultural background too.

Ideas? 

Comments

  1. The simplicity and power of the baptismal ordinance is usually so wonderful. Personally, I would be careful not to overdo other aspects of the service in any way that might take attention away from the main event, so to speak. A baptismal service does not have to be elaborate or unusual to be meaningful. Short but thoughtful talks by the right people and a special musical number will invite the Spirit you would want to have in the meeting.

    D&C 84:20 reads:

    Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

    In my experience, this is truest in regards to the baptismal ordinance. I once saw a person gain a strong testimony of the gospel as he observed a baptism taking place. He was an investigator and he spontaneously stood up and bore his testimony of the gospel to us all right there. The Spirit of that meeting was powerful. I’ll never forget what that felt like.

    Back when I was a ward mission leader and had to deal with the planning of baptismal services, I wrote a post titled “Anxiety and Baptismal Services” There is a checklist in the post that might be helpful as a reminder of certain things. Reading it again, it’s more pointed towards preparing for the baptismal services for investigators – but the checklist might still be helpful.

    From what I’ve seen in the past, in general, those involved with baptismal services tend to be a little too relaxed – thinking that everything will sort of sort itself out on its own. That’s usually not the case and from what I’ve seen, in most baptismal services some little thing is neglected or forgotten because not enough attention has been paid to the details. Someone might forget to bring a towel or a dry shirt to change into or that sort of thing. But sometimes it’s something more serious that can really disrupt the experience.

    It helps if there is a chief ‘worrier’ who will do as much as he/she can to keep those kind of mistakes/oversights to a minimum.

    Do not trust that youthful missionaries will be on top of everything and take care of it for you. In my experience, about 95% of the time, missionaries are too laid back about these sorts of things. I’ll never forget assigning elders to clean out the font (a week in advance), having them accept the assignment – and then hearing one of them tell me on Sunday morning that they hadn’t had time to do it and could I go find the cleaning materials and clean out the font. There’s nothing quite like using a scrub brush and soap to clean out a font, while wearing a suit and tie, to sear this lesson into memory.

    If you are planning a baptism for someone in your family or someone you care about, you should follow up on everything and leave nothing to chance. Be anxious about it. This may mean that you enjoy the event less yourself – but it will help it be the memorable experience it should be for the person being baptized and those who are in attendance.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  2. The growing trend is for stakes to run the program, and I think that’s less stressful and better-run, generally. You have more children, a wider pool of talent to draw from, and you can leave the post-baptism confirmation session for individualized family fare.

    When our son was baptized recently, there were 12 youth from the stake. We had, with all family and friends from all of them, about 300 people there. There were two excellent talks — both short and impactful — and a musical number. The stake president introduced each child and said a few words about each (supplied by the parents). We went to the baptismal font in groups, those who waited were entertained by a choir. We split off in wards for the confirmation itself, which was conducted by the bishop and was more intimate, but no less spiritual than the larger-group setting.

  3. Researcher says:

    I am very very emphatic on this question. My number one piece of advice is KEEP IT SHORT.

    I’ve seen some people who were going to have non members there try and teach all six discussions during the talks and intermediate showing of some long church movie. This was an extreme case, but people were leaving before the service ended and kids were making a ruckus and most of us were about ready to pass out long before the kid was confirmed.

    The longer it gets, the more it detracts from the actual ordinances and the spirit of the event.

    Really, truly, if you’re going to have talks (which is not even scriptural) make them each two minutes. Some people try to distill every last bit of life advice to try and dump into the kid’s head. Really people. The kid is not going to remember anything except the temperature of the water and a general memory of how they felt.

    I echo danithew. Plan every last detail. Be obsessive. Try and make sure there are no delays at any point. Make sure the time after the baptism is well planned and very reverent so as not to take away from the spirit of the event. Make sure that everyone there knows what is going on at any given point such as “after the baptism we will return to the chapel and listen to Janie’s primary class sing some baptism songs.” Then when the people at the service are feeling the spirit by having just witnessed a baptism, they’re not going to lose that feeling when they feel awkward about not knowing what to do when the actual baptism is over. And so forth…..

    I would think that the best possible result from a baptismal program is not “wow that was different but great” but “wow; I actually felt the spirit at that event.”

  4. 1. go short: 1 song, 1 speech
    2. the speech is the key. you want someone who can communicate the beauty of baptism without belaboring the point, using stock phrases, or burying the nose in scriptures.

  5. Julie M. Smith says:

    Howabout a meal afterward at your home?

  6. The only thing I would change about the way I was baptised (so as not to take away from from the sacredness of the event) is perhaps the location. I wish it could have been in a lake or a river somewhere (like the Susquehanna). But I was 8 and I recall very little of the event to be honest.

  7. Yep – SHORT!

    Talk – have your wife or a close female relative give it.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    One word: MIMES.

  9. At my son’s baptism, I was the only speaker and I spoke about becoming a follower of Jesus.

    I never understood why you have talks on faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. If they don’t know those things already, they shouldn’t be getting baptised.

    Short is definitely the key also.

  10. Jo Beth says:

    I’ve heard some leaders say that baptisms and funerals are occasions to teach the “Joseph Smith story.” I agree with Rebecca in #9.

  11. Yet Another John says:

    Although we don’t know all the details, I think the baptism of Jesus was very simple. Remarkable, but simple.

  12. SingleSpeed says:

    #6. I agree. Nothing could be better than finding an appropriate river/lake.

  13. If I was given the opportunity to plan my baptism, I would want the setting very plain and quiet, but very BRIGHT.

    A beautiful, soft hymn would play in the background, such as in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKM8rK0hZYI

    And maybe I would show the above video, rather than have any talks. It says it ALL, without many words.

    I think it would convey the beauty of conversion, baptism, and commitment to everyone present and be truly memorable to all.

    I would rise out of the baptismal waters with my arms raised in Praise and Graditude to my Heavenly Father. And share my Joy with all present.

    God Bless!

  14. Peter LLC says:

    I fourteenth short. A child’s attention span is only marginally shorter than an adult’s and “special” should never be code for “bloated.” I recently helped a family organize a baptism where their special approach was music–no fewer than seven songs and musical numbers, not counting the congregational singing while waiting for the baptisees to change. In retrospect (actually, I was absolutely sure in advance), less would have been so much more.

  15. Left Field says:

    I recently baptized my son, so I have some thoughts on the matter.

    If your meetinghouse is less than 50 years old, it probably has a really lousy baptistry. The baptistry often opens into a hallway, into a basketball court, or into a nursery with toys scattered about, and with blocks and teddy bears painted on the walls. In my building, there is an immovable basketball standard hovering over the font. In another building, the path to the font required going through the kitchen. If you can persuade the bishop, an outdoor baptism might be the way to go, but that would call for some careful planning and an appropriate location in order to pull it off well. At least clear the room of toys, stacked chairs and other distractions that make it glaringly obvious that the use of that space as a baptistry was an afterthought.

    If you have a choice, take the baptismal candidate through a door that leads directly to the font, not through the bathroom. Bathrooms and kitchens are fine (and you may need to change clothes in the bathroom), but try to set an appropriate tone by keeping the services in sacred space as much as possible. By the way, if your changing area does not have a bench, you should bring in a couple of waterproof chairs to sit on while changing.

    For some reason, primary songs seem to be common, even when adults are baptized. There are several very good baptismal hymns in the hymnal that set a good tone for the service. My son always enjoys singing songs in sacrament meeting, so we selected serious grownup hymns for his baptism with no apparent ill effects.

    Most baptismal services include a Talk On Baptism(tm) followed later by a Talk On The Holy Ghost(tm). One talk would be fine, give the speaker a little more leeway on the subjects to be covered, and let the speaker introduce his/her own topic. No need to steal the speaker’s thunder by announcing the parameters of the talk in the program.

  16. My mother was baptized in the Susquehanna. We took a family trip there once and she talked to us about it. As I remember it (I was very little at the time) it was a beautiful setting.

  17. My four oldest children have all sung a duet with their father (“When I am Baptised”). I may be prejudiced because I am gaga in love with them all but those duet have been some of the sweetest moments I ever witnessed at a baptism.

    The boys chose to be baptised on their birthdays. The girls chose to wait a bit so a special someone would be able to attend. They all wanted to share their favorite scripture. Two wanted to bear their testimony.

    I like the flexibility that comes with individual baptisms and the ability to focus on the child who is entering into the covenant. Children can be at such different levels and in such different life situations. It’s nice to be able to customize the experience to the specific child.

    Short cannot be mentioned too often. There is nothing more painful than watching some poor child writhing in boredom at her own baptism.

  18. Jennifer in GA says:

    Both of my daughters have been baptized within the last year and a half, the latest baptism being on Easter Sunday. (Would you believe there was actually some grumbling about having the baptism on that day? Hello! The event that took place on Easter is the reason we are baptized in the first place.)

    I echo keeping it short. I also think it’s important to have the child involved. My daughters chose the songs (both chose “When I am Baptized” and one chose “On a Golden Springtime” and the other chose “I Am a Child of God”). The decided who they wanted to speak. Both times we asked the speakers to speak directly to our child being baptized and to make the talk somewhat personal.

    We also held a small luncheon for family and invited guests before both baptisms. During the lunch, we explained to any non-members who were there what would be happening and answered any questions they might have had. I think this went a long way in helping them feel the Spirit.

    I also agree with planning everything down to the last detail. Some people thought I was a crazy control freak (well, yeah) but everything ran like clockwork and both services were meaningful and spiritual.

  19. This is your family’s baptism. The Prim. Pres. will be grateful (I hope) if you plan it all well in advance and run it past the bishop on your own – again, well in advance. Nobody needs to be stressing about details less than two weeks from the baptismal date.

    One powerful talk for 2-3 minutes on Jesus and what it means to be baptized as a disciple can be powerful. One beautiful song – done as some kind of special number (not a “congregation hymn”) is great. I second the duet or trio or solo, if you have a child who likes to sing. There’s nothing like the song of the heart from a child.

    I love having the mother speak while the child is changing. It doesn’t need to be a “talk” – just a reflection on life focused on gratitude for the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost, plus a heartfelt expression of thanks for all those in attendance. Whatever extra time there is, have someone play “I Am a Child of God”, “How Great Thou Art”, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, etc. while you wait for the child and father to return.

    If I had my choice, I would dispense with the welcome by the bishop and/or primary president. I just think they are another attempt to appeal to the non-members IF the child is an active child of record.

    Short – simple – heartfelt – personalized -controlled by you and your wife and child – planned and cleared well in advance.

  20. So, short seems to be the theme here!! My advice, having done 2 of these in the past 2 years:

    Treat the nonmembers there as you would want to be treated attending their child’s baptism or christening – make an enjoyable religious experience, but don’t go overboard and try to convert them.

    What makes the experience most memorable for the child is her part in planning. My daughter was born on Christmas Eve, so she wanted me to talk about Christmas at her baptism and we sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing. A bit untraditional, but it suited her and the spirit was there.

    I love having everyone attending write a note or their testimony while waiting for the participants to get dressed.

    Most importantly, don’t let the running of the show make you miss the tender moments. With my first, I was rushing around too much, but my second I made sure to enjoy it, particularly the few minutes after the baptism when we were getting her dressed. I didn’t hurry her, and we talked for just a minute about what it was like for both of us. I would rate that moment in terms of parent-child-God connection right up there with the first time you hold your baby. I guess I’m a bit sentimental :)

    I also vote for the river, but know that’s unlikely in this age.

  21. I was baptized about a year and a half ago, and it meant a lot to me to be able to choose things myself. I got to pick the speaker and the songs (for the most part). One thing I wanted that I was told I couldn’t have was the Star-Spangled Banner for one of my songs. Even now, that seems silly to me, because that songs means a lot to me.

    So yeah. My recommendation is to let your daughter have a have a say in what is supposed to be her ceremony. She’ll remember that, if nothing else.

  22. In our ward, the primary presidency plans the whole program. I make sure to get input from the family for speakers and songs, etc, but apparently somewhere in the past they were starting to have problems with people spending more time thinking about the details than the covenant (think bat/bar mitzvah for mormons) and so they took the job of planning away from the parents. I actually think that’s good overall for families b/c you can just show up that day without worrying about anything more than bringing a towel and a change of underwear. When my daughter was baptized, we were in a place where they just gave a checklist to the parents and said, “here’s what you need to do.” I am not in any pictures from that day b/c I was too busy running around.

    Special doesn’t mean elaborate and it doesn’t even have to be different, necessarily. I think the baptism will be meaningful for your family simply b/c it’s for your family. If you haven’t gotten lots out of past baptisms, it may be that it’s just b/c it wasn’t your child.

    You might also keep in mind that the baptism is not the end all and be all of your child’s experience in the church. Much like the wedding day pales in comparison to the rest of married life. If you focus too much on making the day “special” you can lose sight of what really makes it special.

  23. Plus, in some ways it’s like throwing an elaborate birthday party for a 1 year old. Are they really going to remember it and appreciate it? or is it more for the parent to remember?

  24. Great ideas to which I would only add that the short talk or talks be on a child’s level. On this of all days, the child should understand and find the talk interesting. My husband once gave a lovely baptismal talk for a baseball loving nephew with baseballs, a bat and a tire he used for Little League training. He brought the nephew up front to test out his analogies on the equipment. Honest, reverence was maintained and the boy knew this was all about him and his salvation.

  25. #23 – “Are they really going to remember it and appreciate it?”

    Probably, IF they are involved and feel the spirit of the ordinance. If, otoh, the child is just one of 15 on an assembly line, is totally disconnected from the event, and feels rushed or ignored or irrelevant . . . probably not.

    “or is it more for the parent to remember?”

    If so, someone needs to repent. Plain and simple.

  26. There have been two baptisms that stuck out in my mind over the past couple years. Both of them started out with the traditional Stake-run program at the beginning and then being sent off to the baptismal font in small groups. What made these two particular occasions special, however, is following the baptism, the family of the child went into a separate room (RS room/YW room) for the confirmation of the child. On both of these occasions, the parents of the child being confirmed took the time to bear their testimonies to the friends and family present and to talk specifically to their child. The testimonies were short (the importance of “short” everyone has mentioned) but they were very heart-felt and given just for the benefit of the child being baptized. During one of the times I saw this happen, one of the grandfathers of the child being baptized was asked to share a short testimony. He was very touched by the spirit and bore a beautiful, deep testimony. The entire room felt the amazingly strong spirit of that day. It was beautiful.

    Very memorable and, still, very simple. I wished I had done that for my children. (One more chance to make it happen.) Good luck to you.

    Oh–one more thing–I would try to make the day as simple and as non-stressful as possible to give everyone the chance to feel the spirit and not feel rushed and pressured.

  27. Researcher says:

    Something else I just thought of is that when we lived in So Cal for a little while, we were rather embarrassed when we showed up for a baptism (mid-week) and everyone else was dressed to the nines and had bought the baptism girl elaborate gifts. We’d never seen that before and have never seen it since. We thought it was woefully inappropriate but while we were there we learned to bow to the customs of the area and take the child some scripture marking pencils or something.

  28. Most memorable baptismal visual aid ever goes to Brother H. two weeks ago.

    Cheez Whiz. A laminated picture of a child. A few wet wipes.

    Cheez Whiz (as we all know)= sin
    Wet wipes = baptism.
    The cartoon child = The baptism boy, A.

    Little cheese sins were squirted all over the cartoon kid as he took a cookie after his mother said no, argued with his brother and threw his friend’s toy car at the playground. The wet wipes cleaned the accumulated Cheez Whiz off of the picture the way the atonement cleanses us from sin as we are baptised. Brother H. explained that after baptism that the sacrament = wet wipes.

    The children were riveted. In fact, my kids are getting excited about the memory of the lesson even as I type. Not my first choice for a talk I’d give, but it actually suited A. perfectly. And the kids have remembered it vividly.

    I’ve also heard of a salt and pepper demonstration and some sort of a cloudy water clear up that also represent being cleansed from sin. Never seen either of those though.

    (I do think the Cheez Whiz demo fails to meet the goal of having the “non-members walk away feeling like they’ve just seen something sacred that taught and lifted them up whether or not they believe it, and traditional members to walk away feeling ‘wow, that was different, but so right and appropriate.’”)

  29. Short, simple.

    Those are the best rules of thumb.

    Personally I think the traditional talks on Baptism before the baptism, and a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost after the baptism are best for the following reasons:

    1: They are pertinent to the person/child who is being baptized. Having someone speak on what is going to happen to you is important for both understanding, but also to focus thoughts on the event.

    2: They are good topics for non-members to hear. That way they know and understand what is happening and why we think it is so important. Secondly, these are doctrines and ordinances that separate not only Mormons from other Christians, but even more so from non-Christians. Full understanding of the doctrine for the non-members is not necessary, as long as they sense the Spirit.

    That said, if you know that there are going to be non-Christians at the Baptism it may be a good idea to give some more specific structure to the talks.

    For example, the talk on Baptism would probably be better focused on Paul’s symbolism of being buried with Christ in Death and being raised to a new and pure life in Christ. This is a symbolism that reaches outside of Christian thought and can be understood by those who are not Christian. Christians often overlook this symbolism and leap straight to being forgiven of our sins- but those who are not Christians will miss the deeper subtext of sin being death and Christ being life. Furthermore, such a focus allows for a short summery of the Atonement- which is the central doctrine of Christianity. In fact, you might even structure the talk to first discuss Christ dying and being resurrected and then discussing how baptism symbolizes this for us. Whether to add a bit on the Fall, and the promise of Christ to redeem I’d leave up to the speaker.

    For the talk on the Holy Ghost I’d suggest a short bit focused on the promise that Christ gave before He felt that He would not leave us alone but would send the Comforter, followed by sharing a personal experience with the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This lets non-Christians know who and what the Holy Ghost is: A gift and guide from God- and also how it actually impacts our lives.

    Both of these style of talks will also be good for members as it reminds them of some of the “basics” that we don’t think about as much.

    Children’s Hymns can be very effective- especially if they are the more simple ones that directly express the doctrine. However, several Hymns in the adult Hymnal can also be good choices, including some that are not specifically tagged as Baptismal songs. For example: “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Rock of Ages”. Additionally, you might even choose a Hymn that has lyric unconnected to baptism or the Holy Ghost.

    Often the special musical number is something from outside the Hymnal, and that can be good, but I’ve found that special musical numbers that use a basic song from the Hymnal can be special in a way that really touches people.

    The only other element of the Baptism is what do you do while you and your daughter are changing. I’ve seen different things such as showing a film, or having a musical number here, but the two thing that stuck out to me as most moving was the time we had a simple testimony meeting, and the time we spent just singing hymns from the hymnal. If non-Christians will be there then a testimony meeting would be my recommendation.

    My final comment is this- I wouldn’t worry about your daughter’s baptism being generic, or trying to make it special. It will be special because it’s her baptism. That makes it special in a way that excessive additions would only detract from.

  30. I was baptized in the Susquehanna river. The main thing that I remember was how COLD it was! There was snow on the banks and ice around the edges, and we waited until April! Also, no one came to such a rural location. We just dragged some local missionaries out there to act as witnesses.

    If your daughter is an eight year old, she should be able to get dressed pretty quickly. It can be pretty awkward waiting for the baptism girl. I am not in favor of a testimony meeting during a baptism. Play a few hymns on the piano. Good advice here about keeping it short and simple. It is a sweet experience generally for eight year-olds, so there is no need to do anything fantastic or over their heads.

    Jami, hilarious visual aid! And gross! But I think it’s great to do something for the kids. I loved a talk at my confirmation about the comforter and I was given a beautiful blanket.

  31. Ray (#25) – I just wanted to clarify that I don’t believe in birthday parties for 1 year olds or baptisms that are for parents to remember. I was trying to make the same point that Cicero (#29) made in his/her last paragraph.

  32. Left Field also baptized my son not long ago. The grown-up hymns were a bit confusing for some of the guests. I guess they had never been to a baptism where “I Am a Child of God” was not sung.

    We did a couple of special musical numbers with other children in his class – we had a viola solo and two vocal solos while he was changing, then he sang a duet with the singer. I thought it was really nice. We only had one talk, by a former primary teacher, and he did a really great job.

    We have almost no family here, so we weren’t going to be able to fill the room with aunts, uncles and cousins. We got a good turnout by holding the baptism right after choir practice.

    Short is good.

  33. I was in a stake Primary president from 1999 to 2002 and was required to make the change from having family planned baptisms to having them take place at the stake level. This change was implemented by our stake president (and in his mind absolutely not optional) and in response to a letter from the First Presidency suggesting that baptisms be carefully planned and supervised to maintain the appropriate reverant atmosphere. Many families resisted the change and felt that children were now being denied having a special ‘just me’ baptisms like their siblings, cousins, parents, etc. I attended probably 14 of these monthly stake baptisms and there was not a one where I did not STRONGLY feel the spirit. On several occassions it literally took my breath away. (What a blessing to be able to feel the spirit so strongly!!!) That certainly gave me a testimony of the rightness of the decision made by our Stake President. I think our Priesthood leaders helped to make these events a spiritual feast. A member of the stake presidency always attended and the stake high councilor over Primary always came early, set-up, and gave a brief “over-view of the mechanics” for the baptizers and baptizees before the meeting began.
    I agree that careful attention to detail in the planning goes a long way toward making the event spiritual and memorable. I think someone should always be at the head of the stairs to help the newly baptized person navigate the stairs out of the font (a safety concern).
    I have been upset when witnessing several convert baptisms where the missionaries and other priesthood leaders didn’t act/intervene to help the baptismal ordinance go more smoothly. Having to say the baptismal prayer 5 times before you get it right could be avoided with a brief session ahead of time and/or having a priesthood leader whisper a phrase and the baptizer repeat. (This was a fairly recent covert, an older man, who was baptizing a friend who followed he and his wife into the church. Regrettably, it was an uncomfortable baptism.) The same goes with baptizing a larger size adult. Why can’t there be two priesthood holders in the font. One who officially gives the prayer and holds the hands of the person being baptized and another brother to help get the body down under the water and up out again. It would take some talking through the procedure and knowing in advance what was going to happen but I don’t know why this couldn’t be done. Having to be “dunked” multiple times and feeling like you are slip-sliding trying to get your footing, getting totally water-logged in the process cannot be a spiritually ‘warm’ event from what I’ve witnessed. I just wish brethern would sometimes step in and help instead of not saying anything and letting some priesthood holder flounder.
    And, I just gave a lesson to my Valiant 9 and 10s last Sunday on “Alma baptizes at the Waters of Mormon. None of the children could remember any details of their baptism except the temperature of the water and who baptized them.

  34. I’m so glad we live somewhere we could plan our kids’ baptisms and not have to submit to an assembly line. I’m sure it CAN be nice, and perhaps necessary, in areas where there are large numbers of small children, but we would have missed out on two very ‘special’ experiences. Since the family is the fundamental unit of the church, I think local priesthood/primary authorities should only be minimally involved unless invited to be(if at all- but I know many will disagree).

    My oldest was baptized right after church so we had a full house (hardly any kids in our ward) and it was pretty short and sweet. She sang “When I am Baptized”, I gave a short talk on baptism/being like Jesus, we asked some important women in her life (family friends) to speak briefly during the ‘lag time’ when she was dressing, and then my mom rambled a bit about the Holy Ghost. We had a luncheon after at our house. My husband conducted and we planned the whole program ourselves and submitted it to the bishop.

    My younger daughter was baptized this past summer in a river where her dad was baptized in England. We caught a little flack but held firm that this is what we wanted to do. We didn’t contact the local leaders since we didn’t know them at all. My husband conducted and spoke briefly, she was baptized, we changed her quick, and then I spoke briefly and gave her a set of scriptures. Her grandad confirmed her and I think we might have sung I am a child of God somewhere in there. It was only family which was also nice since it had been only grandma and ward members at the older daughter’s.

    Convert baptisms…… wow, don’t get me started.

  35. It’s good to see such differing opinions. The fact that our BCC fanboy requested such advice shows that it’s very important to him and his family to have this baptism go “perfectly”. Here’s some personal thoughts.

    1. Don’t stress about it. Plan everything in advance though(how many hymnals you’ll need to steal from the chapel and everything).

    2. Short and simple is always best. I often remind people I work with that “less says more”; and it’s the same with the Spirit

    3. Whoever speaks and whatever is said, make sure there is an invitation to the congregation to follow the Spirit they are feeling. For members that would be to recommit themselves, for nonmembers that would perhaps be to investigate further the Church. But make sure the invitation is given clearly enough by the speaker so that everyone will know personally how to respond the the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

    4. If it’s important to be unique yet profound, fast about it ask the Lord what He would have you do. It is really His service anyways. So ask His advice and go into the fast with some ideas. If you’re given a stupor of thought, perhaps it means that the traditional two talks and welcomings is just the way the Lord has laid out.

    I hope it goes well though. You’ve gotten lots of advice at least ;o)

  36. I don’t remember any of the details of my oldest child’s baptism. We planned the next one more carefully. One grandmother gave the opening prayer; the other led the singing. The grandpas participated in the confirmation (this was right after the instruction to limit the sizes of such circles … I notice they have since ballooned again). His den mom gave the closing prayer. The president of the Spanish-speaking branch we attend and the bishop of our home ward witnessed the baptism. The speakers were his Primary teacher and his favorite babysitter. While my son and husband were changing clothes, my oldest daughter played some of my son’s favorite hymns and Primary songs on the violin (I accompanied). I think we also had his Primary classmates sing “When I Am Baptized.” It was short and sweet.

    Our branch has many convert baptisms, and we almost always have the congregation sing hymns (I take requests) while the baptizer and baptizee change clothes. This always invites the spirit.

    If I knew what your friend considers “generic and unmemorable” about the typical service, I’d be better able to advise. Personally, what made my son’s baptism more memorable than my daughter’s was the time we took, in consultation with him, to involve people who had a special role in his life. They felt touched and honored to participate, and I think that made a big difference. Also, as dozens of people have noted, the importance of simplicity can’t be overstated.

  37. Since I am the only piano player in our ward, I get to attend every baptism we have had the last several years. Based on that experience, I agree with the top recommendation: Keep it Short.

    Different people try different things while the people are changing back into dry clothes. It usually works best to sing a few hymns during this time. That said, this is another area that should be planned. I was at one where they asked for favorite hymns, and some joker in the congregation just pulled a number out of his… head, and it was unfamiliar to everyone in the room. On the other hand, if there are lots of hymnbooks in the room, you can choose two or three REAL favorites. I’ve seen the testimony thing, and while it was nice, I always felt bad for the people changing clothes, because that meant they missed out on a real spiritual experience at an occasion that was meant for THEM.

    Another thing that has been nice has been musical numbers by the family. At one of the most recent baptisms we had, the girl getting baptized sang “I Am A Child of God” with her brother and two sisters. That was the best part of the baptism.

    I also agree that one of the main reasons to keep it short and simple is that the person (child or adult) who is getting baptised probably won’t remember much about the baptism other than the water’s temperature (mine was freezing), who baptised them, and how they felt. If you keep it simple, you will be under less stress, and so you will have less stress to pass on to your child.

  38. Elements of Our Unique Cultural Background?

    When I think of ‘mormon culture’ it involves either a handcart, a casserolle or Kenneth Cope.

    All of which could be included in the post baptism mingle.

  39. I echo some of these comments–keep it simple, but meaningful, like the simplicity of the ordinance you’re performing. Pay attention to the “management” details as those can easily spoil the mood of the simple things of the spirit. Resist the temptation to blow it up into some big “This is your life” moment of celebration.

    That comment that it should only be about “me” makes me sick a little when I see the same thigns with parents spending unholy amounts of money on 1 year old birthday parties, etc.

    I was nervous when my oldest was approaching the age of eight. I was on the high council and had seen my share of lame, assembly-line stake baptisms supervised by an old high councilman who would rather be mowing his lawn on his only day off. Luckily, we ended up as the only one that month, and I sort of took over since I was on the high council. We managed that service for the spirit, not for my daughter. One thing I took the initiative on was to bear my testimony, as a father and priesthood holder at the end.

    My second was baptized in my parent’s pool with her cousin from New York–We had a lot of family and it turned out nice, although my crazy orthodox aunt sat there stewing the whole time because she thought we were going off the edge into apostasy. Made her uncomfortable I guess.

    My third boy was baptized in Lake Seneca in New York in the same location where they believe that the first members of the church were baptized south of the Whitmer Farm. Just family, but turned out wonderful. Simple and sweet right on the beach.

    My last was just baptized this past September in a stake baptism assembly line. Went alright due to the fact that the other boy being baptized was the grandson of a respected bishop, so it maintained a certain spirit that worked. Although I wasn’t in charge, it worked on that day. ONe thing we did however, was insist on doing the service at 10:30–our stake changed things last year to have the service at 9:00. I guess the HC wants to get home sooner, but it sure is hard to get family from all around and my own six children ready for anything by 9:00. It helps the spirit that we’re not rushing around stressed by time.

    good luck

  40. Researcher says:

    Not to threadjack, but who’s Kenneth Cope and what does he have to do with Mormon culture?

  41. Kenneth Cope is an LDS musician. I think he devotes his music exclusively to church-related themes, and I know he’s popular with the EFY and Time Out for Women sets. It’s possible you’ve heard one of his songs, such as “His Hands.” That’s about all I know, but HTH.

  42. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Living on a small island, we are fortunate to have our own small chapel, but it does not have a baptismal font. People here make one of three choices: drive 20 minutes off island to the next city to use the font there; go to one of the members’ houses on the shore for a baptism in the Puget Sound ocean water; or go to the bishop’s farm for baptism in his pond. The font is the favorite location (because the water is warm); but a close second is the bishop’s pond. More than 40 baptisms have occurred there, and the most recent was super sweet. An 8-year-old boy’s baptism began right after the 3-hour-block in the Primary room, with an opening song, prayer, and one talk given by his primary teacher. Then we all drove over to the farm, the boy was baptized in the pond, then bundled up in towels and blankets–in February!–and immediately confirmed. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, it was short and sweet, and the family had homemade banana-walnut bread for everyone afterwards!

    My son opted for the font. The service was too long (my fault), but it was geared for him and his classmate, who was also baptized the same day. Two things made it extra special: the other child’s grandfather, who had not been to church in 40 years, spoke about baptism, and he bore a powerful testimony! And, after the children were baptized and were changing, we showed a video, one of each, of a slideshow of the child growing up, set to his or her favorite hymn.

    I hope my daughter sticks with her desire to be baptized in the bishop’s pond…

    When I asked my 90-year-old grandfather (whose birthday is in November) about his baptism, he said, with more than a hint of bitterness, that he didn’t understand why they couldn’t wait 6 months to baptize him. They had had to chop the ice out of the river to baptize him!

    Keep it short, sweet, and accomodate your child’s wishes as much as possible.

  43. Fanboy,

    My semi-active father declined to baptise me, but he did make a short video to play while i was changing- a couple of pics with music, then me talking about the gospel. It spiritual, personal and unique.

    Good luck

  44. This is your family’s baptism.

    Then don’t move to a stake which opts to run all of the baptisms. (Those tend to be run very well, actually). You won’t be able to use stake facilities for your baptism if you choose to go on your own.

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