What is 'baptism'?
The word 'baptism' comes from the Greek word 'baptizein' meaning to "immerse, plunge, or dip."
Baptism symbolises a transition from death to life/leaving the old behind and a new beginning/a washing away.
Baptism should not be entered into without some prior thought and reflection.
It is an outward sign of something that has happened, an internal response to a spiritual desire, a statement of intent and commitment.
It marks the first steps in a personal journey.
It is also a formal welcome into full time membership of the Christian community.
What happens in a baptism?
A typical baptism service will ask questions of parents, godparents, the candidates (if they are of an age to respond themselves), and other members of the family and friends to make sure that they fully understand what they are doing and their responsibilities.
Those taking part in a baptism service should be aware that these questions are asked before God and there is a commitment on each person’s part to uphold those promises made.
The person being baptised is often first anointed with the holy oil (catechumens), and then parents and godparents (or candidate if they are old enough to speak for themselves) make a profession of faith.
The essential part of Baptism consists of the priest/minister/pastor immersing the candidate in water once or pouring/sprinkling water on the candidate's head three times, while saying the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
The candidate is then anointed a second time in some traditions but this time with a different kind of holy oil (chrism).
Usually the candidate then receives a blessing and receives a lit candle to remind them they carry the light of Christ with them and He lights their path.
If you are already a member of a church, baptism is usually not a problem.
However, those parents with no or little connection with their local church may find things very different.
In many cases they will be refused by their local churches unless the parents become regular members. They may even have to attend preparation classes.
It isn't always as easy or as straight forward as people think.
Then there are are also those who would like to be baptised at a later stage in life but do not know who to turn to.
Order of St James priests will not place obstacles or conditions in the way of anyone who comes with a genuine desire to be baptised themselves, or have their children baptised. They will be baptised into the worldwide Christian family and be without any specific denominational bias.
The form of words used for the baptism will include the words, 'I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit', and these words are accepted as appropriate by most of the mainstream denominations.
Alternatives to Baptism:
(1) Dedication services can be appropriate for those who feel that they, in faith, cannot accept the principle of child baptism but wish to make a public declaration of their intent to bring up their new child in the Christian tradition.
There is no set form to this kind of service but may (or may not) contain all the elements of a 'traditional' service (readings, prayers, hymns and songs, psalms or poetry and a short talk).
The main focus would be on the promises made by the parents. OSJ priests are usually very happy to work with parents in putting together a dedication
(2) Thanksgiving services for the new life of a child, an adoption, or following a difficult birth may also be another alternative to consider.
This is a completely open form of liturgy in the sense of there are 'no rules' as to what needs to be included.
It should be a happy service that has something for everyone.
It is a good idea to plan a thanksgiving service with your OSJ (UK) priest as they will be able to advise you how to balance the sacramental integrity of the
service whilst keeping it an enjoyable family event.
Without exception everyone is called to their own special form of ministry by God, and that 'ordination' is just one of many forms of calling - all equally valuable, necessary and just as important. There are elements to be found in all forms of ministry that reflect the communal priesthood of all church members. Not only that, but there is no necessity to be 'ordained' in regard to most Christian ministry, or to be 'authorised' in some way. Ministry is and should always be a simple and natural response of faith and love. It is definitely not about recognition, personal power, prestige, control, authority or titles.
There is nothing 'magical' about being ordained - it confirms what already exists rather than it 'giving power to'. In truth, there isn't great deal more you can do once ordained that you couldn't already do before, although there seems to be a lot more paperwork involved. Those who are ordained will tell you it is rarely what they thought it would be. The clerical collar is nothing more than an invitation to a conversation about life and faith and holds no power in itself, and nor should it. It is no guarantee of 'ministry' either.
If you didn't have ministry before being ordained, wearing a clerical collar generally won't make things any different.
Ministry is all around us and we all have something to give and receive. Ministry is for all, by all, and in God alone.
Regardless of rank, title, qualification or position, all members of OSJ (UK) carry equal status (so don't expect any special treatment if you happen to be ordained). All OSJ (UK) members have their own God given mix of gifts, talents and skills, all are called to serve God and the Christian community in some way, and are all equally needed.
Membership is all about serving Christ and those about you, not servicing your own needs or ego.
OSJ (UK), along with many other provinces in OSJ Worldwide, offers training for those who wish to apply for ordination.
The priesthood is not the only form of ministry. It needs some serious consideration and a good deal of resilience and determination. Over 70% of applicants do not stay the course because they lack the conviction of their calling, strength of faith and the will power to see things through. These are the very things they need to have as a priest.
There are a number of pre-requisites all potential applicants should understand and take into account before applying.
1. All candidates should have existing defined ministries.
2. All candidates should have the support of those in their local community and in this respect references and testimonials will be requested by the Order's Executive Council. These references and testimonials will require authentication and further evidence may be requested. If there is no evidence of existing ministry or calling, the application will fail at this stage.
3. The (adult) dependents of candidates will be required to give their written support as part of the initial applications procedure and will most likely be required for interview along side the candidate. In certain circumstances they may be interviewed separately from the candidate. If there is no evidence of support, the application will fail at this stage.
4. The candidate will be required to declare any convictions, cautions and any relevant information whether actual, past, present or pending, as part of their application. This is a legal requirement and obligation. A failure to declare is a criminal offence. Failure to disclose will result in the application being immediately rejected and membership of OSJ (UK) being instantly withdrawn. It may also result in criminal prosecution.
5. Comprehensive and enhanced CRB checks will be required as a matter of course.
6. There will be several interviews as part of the applications process.
7. The first year's course work if successfully completed and agreed by the Order's Executive Council may lead to the candidate being ordained deacon if felt appropriate.
8. The second year's course work may similarly lead to the candidate being offered ordination to the priesthood.**
9. The candidate will undertake a probationary period 'in office' once ordained. This is for a minimum of a year, usually two years in practise, but can be up to 3 years at the discretions of the area bishop and/or Executive Council. We want evidence you are up to the role you are entrusted with.
10. Course work (distance learning) will be supplemented by supervised practical work and 'one to one' tutorials. All parts must be completed successfully. Some candidates may be asked to complete additional coursework where it is deemed beneficial and necessary.
11. Candidates will be responsible for obtaining recommended books and completing work within a reasonable time. This will be a test of discipline and resolve. There is no financial support offered by OSJ (UK).
12. Successful completion of coursework is no guarantee of ordination. The decision to ordain will rest independently and jointly with both the Executive Council and the Order's Bishops and Executive Bishop.
Lastly and so there are no misunderstandings, this process is geared towards non-stipendiary Episcopally ordained ministry in the community. It should complement and enhance existing ministry and not be seen as an end in itself.
Intending applicants must already be members of the MST (Ministry Support Team) OSJ (UK). Don't expect it to be easy. We want to see resilience.
** Parts of the course work may be off-set against relevant pre-existing qualification and experience.
Confirmation is appropriate when a person decides that they wish to take up for themselves the promises made on their behalf by their parents at the time of baptism and commit themselves to a faith centred life.
Getting confirmed is an sign of commitment, witness and testimony. It is an outward sign of an inner process.
Confirmation does not automatically bestow the gift/gifts of the Holy Spirit on people as some churches believe - they may even be already present and self-evident.
Providing a candidate can demonstrate their understanding of what confirmation is and asks of them, and can faithfully make a commitment, there is no reason why they cannot be confirmed by a bishop in the Order of St James.
The essential rite is the laying on of hands by the bishop and a short prayer, 'Confirm this thy servant (Name) with thy Holy Spirit,' or similar.
An anointing of oil may also form part of the confirmation rite along with any other appropriate local traditions.
Confirmation conducted by OSJ (UK) will be without denominational bias.
If you are interested in confirmation, please do contact the Order of St James office or one of the OSJ (UK) members.
OSJ (UK) does not prescribe any single form of liturgy as being superior to another, and that even includes our own examples (see 'Printable Services').
Liturgies/services are prescribed purely on the basis of being appropriate to the situation and need.
This is what the Order of St James 'Rule of Simplicity' states:
Liturgy, the sacraments and worship.
Regrettably, denominations have caused and still cause divisions and barriers within the body of Christ.
This is not compatible with the example and ministry of Christ as outlined in the Gospels or the words of St Paul regarding the one-ness of the body of Christ (the one true and unified church) as found in 1 Corinthians 12 for example.
The Order and its members will continue to ignore and break through the barriers the denominational churches have created by taking the unconditional love of God to wherever it is needed.
This will be done in a way which brings glory to God, strengthens and makes whole the body and is done within the bonds of Christian love and in obedience to the will of God.
Every effort should be made by all members to meet the discerned needs of all those they come into contact with, whatever their personal denominational affiliations.
A member’s own personal preferences are to be regarded as of no account when it comes to ministry.
Christ met our needs unconditionally and all members will reflect that grace in their dealings with others.
Members may however pass work on to other members of the Order if they feel that they cannot give 100% support to any requests made.
Since the Order is not bound by denominational traditions, its members are free to access and use whatever forms of sacramental or other liturgies that are appropriate to the needs of the people they serve.
The exclusive promotion of any one denominational form of liturgy or practice within the Order is contrary to the founding principles of the Order and is expressly forbidden.
Similarly, the Order will not be bound by any traditions or canons of ‘the church’ that deny access to the sacraments or liturgy to any person who approaches them with respect and in faith, however limited.
If these two conditions are met, all are free to receive any of the sacraments of the church and shall not be denied them.
Because of the servant nature of Christ as exemplified by the washing of the disciples’ feet, (ordained) members may out of humility adopt the practice of taking their communion of both kinds after all others have received.