Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Grand Junction, Colorado

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 73)
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (AD 1922)
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (AD 1979)

METROPOLIS OF DENVER
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Greek Orthodox
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Administrative
Guidelines
for the
Mysteries of
Baptism and
Chrismation
The Mysteries (Sacraments) of Holy Baptism and Chrismation

Introduction

Baptism is the fundamental, most-basic, Mystery (Sacrament) of the Christian faith, because through Baptism (immersion in water) a person is joined to Christ, and thereby becomes an adopted son or daughter of God, and heir to the Kingdom of heaven; (see Romans 6:3-9, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Ephesians 1:3-6, and Romans 8:14-17).

Chrismation (sometimes referred to as confirmation) is the Mystery (Sacrament) by which a baptized person is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with Chrism (a consecrated, holy oil). As baptism is a personal participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ, so chrismation is a personal participation in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

It is through Baptism and Chrismation that we become members of the Body of Christ, members of the of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and Orthodox Christian Church. For this reason, children are Baptized and Chrismated as soon after birth as may be practical.

Since a person is a “full member” of the Church by Baptism and Chrismation – the “Mysteries of entrance” into the Church – even children receive Holy Communion from their earliest age.

Because these Mysteriews are so basic and fundamental one cannot receive Holy Communion (the Holy Eucharist, or Body and Blood of Christ) unless they have been Baptized and Chrismated in the Orthodox Church.

Sponsors or Godparents

A person being Baptized and Chrismated, whether a child or an adult, has a “sponsor,” or “godparent.” The sponsor assumes the great responsibility for walking along the spiritual path with their godchild, exemplifying the faith, teaching them the faith, and help'ing them in every way in the faith.

Items Typically brought to the Parish Church for a Baptism by Parents and Sponsors/Godparents

Certain practical items are necessary for a Baptism and/or Chrismation. In all instances, parents and godparents must speak with the parish priest – in advance – to determine what may be required.

In general, parents and/or godparents typically bring the following items for the Baptism and Chrismation of a child:

  1. 1. A baptismal candle; this may be a simple beeswax candle or one decorated for the occasion.
  2. 2. A bottle of fresh olive oil.
  3. 3. A white towel and a white sheet; these will be placed on the sponsors arms to receive the child after the Baptism.
  4. 4. A bar of soap (such as Ivory soap) and a white hand towel; this may be required for the priest and sponsor to wash their hands after the Baptism and Chrismation – please check with the parish priest about this.
  5. 5. A new set of clothing, usually white; these will be blessed and the newly-Baptized and Chrismated will be clothed in them after the Baptism and Crismation.
  6. 6. A baptismal cross; this will be presented to the newly-Baptized and Chrismated before the conclusion of the service.

In general, the sponsor or the candidate will typically bring the following items for the Baptism and Chrismation of an adult or older child:

  1. 1. A baptismal candle; this may be a simple beeswax candle or one decorated for the occasion.
  2. 2. A bottle of fresh olive oil.
  3. 3. A bar of soap (such as Ivory soap) and a white hand towel; this may be required for the priest and sponsor to wash their hands after the Baptism and Chrismation – please check with the parish priest about this.
  4. 4. A new set of clothing, usually white; these will be blessed and the newly-Baptized and Chrismated will be clothed in them after the Baptism and Crismation.
  5. 5. A baptismal cross; this will be presented to the newly-Baptized and Chrismated before the conclusion of the service.

In general, the sponsor or the candidate will typically bring the following items for the Chrismation of a previously-baptized adult or child being received in to tje Orthodox Church through Baptism:

  1. 1. A baptismal candle; this may be a simple beeswax candle or one decorated for the occasion.
  2. 2. A baptismal cross; this will be presented to the newly-Baptized and Chrismated before the conclusion of the service.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Pastoral Guidelines for Baptisms

A person who wishes to sponsor a candidate for Baptism or Chrismation must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and a supporting member of an Orthodox parish. A person may not serve as a godparent if the Church has not blessed his or her marriage or, if civilly divorced, he or she has not been granted an ecclesiastical divorce, or for any other reason he or she is not in communion with the Orthodox Church. Baptisms may not be performed during Holy Week.

Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
Administrative Guidelines for the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation

TOPIC INDEX

Introduction, Click here.

General Administrative Regulations, Click here.

I. Authority, Click here.

II. Forbidden Periods, Click here.

III. Celebration of Baptism and/or Chrismation Outside an Orthodox Temple, Click here.

IV. Requirement for Triple Immersion, Click here.

V. Clinical Baptism, Click here.

VI. Baptism and/or Chrismation of Minors, Click here.

VII. Baptism and/or Chrismation of Members of Other Parishes, Click here.

VIII. Sponsor, Click here.

IX. Receiving Those Previously Baptized through Chrismation, Click here.

X. Receiving Orthodox Christians Separated From the Church, Click here.

XI. Inter-Jurisdictional Recognition of Mysteries, Click here.

XII. Subsequent Marriage of Couples Received into the Orthodox Church, Click here.

Procedures for Submitting Baptism and Chrismation Certificates, Click here.

INTRODUCTION

Individuals are joined to the Body of Christ, and thus to the Orthodox Church, through the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. This Mystery is essential insofar as it is the normal method through which we are “Baptized into Christ Jesus” and thus “Baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). This is done “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).” Children are usually Baptized and Chrismated as infants, generally in the first few months of life; parents should be counseled to bring their children to the Mystery of Baptism as soon as practicable. The Baptism itself should always be by triple immersion, as taught and mandated by the Apostles themselves (Canon 49 of the 85 Canons of the Holy and Renowned Apostles), so that he who is Baptized shall be buried (immersed totally) and resurrected (raised out of the water) with Christ. Pastors shall therefore provide such means as may be practical for the Baptism of adults and older children.

Despite another apostolic teaching (Canon 46 of the 85 Canons of the Holy and Renowned Apostles), but rather in imitation of the example of Saint Basil who accepted the Baptism of the Novatian heretics out of regard for oikonomia in view of the majority population, the Greek Orthodox Church – by extreme oikonomia – accepts the Baptism of Roman Catholics and some Protestant denominations and receives converts from these denominations through Chrismation, insofar as they were baptized in the Name of the Most-Holy Trinity..

Return to Topics Index, click here.

GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS

I. Authority

  1. 1. Since all authority to perform the sacred Mysteries and all worship services issues from the Metropolitan, the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation must be celebrated by a Priest belonging to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese according to the Liturgical Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

II. Forbidden Periods

  1. 1. The Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation are not permitted on the following days:
    1. a. Holy Week
    2. b. Pascha
    3. c. December 25 through January 6 (Afterfeast period of the Nativity)
    4. d. All Feast Days of Our Lord and of the Theotokos.
  2. 2. If the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation must out of absolute necessity be celebrated on one of the non-permissible days, the Priest shall request an exception from the Metropolitan in writing to celebrate the Baptism and/or Chrismation stating the specific extenuating circumstances for authorizing the Mystery(s) on a specific date by oikonomia.
  3. 3. If the Metropolitan permits the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation during periods of abstinence (e.g., Holy Week) for reasons of oikonomia, any celebrations associated with the event shall be extremely muted and due regard paid to the fasting restrictions of the season; e.g., no dancing or entertainment of any kind is allowed and only appropriate Lenten foods may be served.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

III. Celebration of Baptism and/or Chrismation Outside an Orthodox Temple

  1. 1. If the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation can not be celebrated in an Orthodox church (temple), as may occur in areas of the Metropolis where no Orthodox church exists, the Priest shall request permission in writing from the Metropolitan to perform the Mysteries at a specified location.
  2. 2. Dispensation to celebrate the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation outside an Orthodox church (temple) might not be granted if there is an Orthodox church (temple) in the area.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

IV. Requirement for Triple Immersion

  1. 1. The Baptism shall be by triple immersion.
  2. 2. In the case of small children, this is easily accomplished in the kolimvithra (baptismal font).
  3. 3. For older children or adults an effort shall be made to provide an appropriate facility to conduct the Baptism by triple immersion. In some cases, when appropriate means for immersion are not possible, the triple pouring of Baptismal water over the candidate would be permissible. This would be in the spirit of clinical Baptism.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

V. Clinical Baptism

  1. 1. In cases of emergency, such as when a newborn infant in a hospital is not expected to live, the priest shall sprinkle the head, hands, and feet of the infant with holy water while invoking the words of Baptism. The priest shall not, however, Chrismate the infant; this would be done instead in the Temple at a later date should the child recover.
  2. 2. In extreme cases of emergency any Orthodox Christian can Baptize an individual in imminent danger of dying by the triple pouring or sprinkling of water over the person while saying: “The servant of God (Name) is Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
    1. a. In such cases when no Orthodox Christian is available to do this, any person can so Baptize an individual in imminent danger of dying who believes in the Holy Trinity.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

VI. Baptism and/or Chrismation of Minors

  1. 1. If a person under 18 years of age requests of his/her own volition to become a candidate for Baptism and/or Chrismation , both parents or guardians shall provide written consent.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

VII. Baptism and/or Chrismation of Members of Other Parishes

  1. 1. If the candidate for Baptism and/or Chrismation is a member of another parish, he/she shall obtain a certificate or letter of membership from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the priest performing the Mystery(s).
  2. 2. If the parent(s) bringing a child for Baptism and/or Chrismation is/are a member(s) of another parish, he/she/they shall obtain a certificate or letter of membership from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the priest performing the Mystery(s).

Return to Topics Index, click here.

  1. 1. The Sponsor (“nonos”; “nono” - Godfather or “nona” - Godmother) shall be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church; the following persons can not be Sponsors:
    1. a. An Orthodox Christian who does not belong to a parish.
    2. b. An Orthodox Christian under twelve years of age.
    3. c. An Orthodox Christian who belongs to a parish not in Communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
    4. d. A married Orthodox Christian who has not been married in the Orthodox Church.
    5. e. Any one who has been excommunicated or anathematized from the Orthodox Church.
    6. f. An Orthodox Deacon, Priest, or Metropolitan.
  2. 2. Normally there is only one sponsor; two may be allowed.
  3. 3. The Sponsor (“nono” or “nona”) should be sufficiently mature enough to understand the responsibilities he/she is undertaking; for this reason they should normally be over twelve years of age.
  4. 4. The selection of a Baptismal Sponsor (“nono” or “nona”) should take into account the fact that the spiritual relationship established is one of spiritual parent to a spiritual child, and in fact this relationship is considered closer and more intimate than that of biological parents with their children since the spirit is higher than the body. Thus the subsequent marriage of godchildren is affected by the proscriptions against incest in the same way as these apply to blood relationships.
  5. 5. So as to preclude any possible future marriage impediment, it is therefore customary for individuals only to be Sponsors of children of the same sex; e.g., for a woman to choose only to be the godmother of boys. This is not necessary, of course, when there is a vast difference between the ages of the male spiritual children and the female spiritual children of the same godparent.
  6. 6. Because a clergyman has a pre-existent and superior spiritual relationship to the people of God, it is not appropriate for a Deacon, Priest, or Metropolitan to be a Sponsor (nonos). As physical relationships are not duplicated, neither should spiritual relationships be duplicated.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

IX. Receiving Those Previously Baptized through Chrismation

  1. 1. An individual may be received into the Church by oikonomia through Chrismation, if they were previously Baptized:
    1. a. In water
    2. b. In the “Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”
    3. c. By a church or denomination that has an expressed belief in the Most Holy Trinity.
  2. 2. In general, a Baptism conducted in one of the following churches may be accepted by extreme oikonomia, assuming it was done in conformance with the three critical elements cited in the previous paragraph:
    1. a. Anglican Catholic
    2. b. Anglican Communion (Church of England, Episcopal, etc.)
    3. c. Assembly of God
    4. d. Baptist
    5. e. Church of the Brethren
    6. f. Lutheran
    7. g. Methodist
    8. h. Moravians
    9. i. Non-Chalcedonian and Monophysite Orthodox Churches
    10. j. Old Catholic (Polish National Catholic Church, Church of Utrecht, Liberal Catholic Church, etc.)
    11. k. Presbyterian
    12. l. Roman Catholic
    13. m. United Church of Christ.
  3. 3. Baptisms performed in the following churches are not accepted (individuals from these churches shall be received through Baptism and Chrismation):
    1. a. Anabaptists (Mennonite, etc.)
    2. b. Christian Scientist
    3. c. Disciples of Christ
    4. d. Jehovah's Witness
    5. e. Mormon (also called “Latter Day Saints”)
    6. f. Quaker
    7. g. Salvation Army
    8. h. Seventh Day Adventist
    9. i. Swedenborgian
    10. j. Unitarian
  4. 4. Since some Protestant denomination pastors and ministers may not baptize in the “Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” the Priest must be very cautious whenever inquiring of converts how they were “baptized.” If it cannot be ascertained that the heterodox baptism was done according to the three criteria listed in paragraph IX.1 above, the convert must be properly baptized according to the rite of the Orthodox Church.
  5. 5. When a previously Baptized adult convert or older child is received into the Church by oikonomia through Chrismation, the Service shall be that specified in The Priest's Handbook, issued by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America in 1987. This service is transcribed in full on Attachment E.
    1. a. This Service shall not be served during the Divine Liturgy; it may immediately precede it or follow it if appropriate.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

X. Receiving Orthodox Christians Separated From the Church

  1. 1. Previously Baptized and Chrismated Orthodox Christians who have apostatized from the True Faith, typically through formal association with a non-Orthodox faith, shall be received back into the Church through the Mysteries of Confession and Chrismation.
  2. 2. Although Baptized Christians from the Non-Chalcedonian and Monophysite Orthodox Churches have usually been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Chrismation, they may be received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Confession according to Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh.
  3. 3. Previously Baptized and Chrismated Orthodox Christians from Orthodox jurisdictions not in Communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (e.g., certain “old-calendar” jurisdictions) may be received through the Mystery of Confession.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XI. Inter-Jurisdictional Recognition of Mysteries

  1. 1. The Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation performed in Orthodox jurisdictions that are in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (e.g., those jurisdictions that are members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America) are recognized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

XII. Subsequent Marriage of Couples Received into the Orthodox Church

  1. 1. Couples previously married outside of the Orthodox Church who are subsequently received into the Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation shall be Married according to the rite of the Orthodox Church.
    1. a. If so desired by the couple, this may be a private ceremony involving only the Priest, the couple, and the sponsor.
  2. 2. Individuals previously married outside of the Orthodox Church who are received into the Church through Baptism and/or Chrismation shall be Married according to the rite of the Orthodox Church.
    1. a. In the case of a couple where only one of the spouses converts to the Orthodox faith, they should be Married according to the rite of the Orthodox Church if the non-Orthodox partner is a baptized Christian who freely agrees to the Orthodox Marriage.
  3. 3. Note that some Orthodox jurisdictions, such as the Orthodox Church in America, accept by oikonomia the marriages of couples who were previously married and subsequently received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation.
    1. a. This difference in practice results from the two separate theological opinions regarding the reception of converts by oikonomia through Chrismation.
      1. (1)  According to what is generally considered the “Russian” theological argument, the Mystery of Chrismation conferred upon a convert “fulfills” or “completes” the missing aspects of previous heterodox sacraments (such as Baptism and Marriage).
      2. (2) According to the theological argument of the Greek Orthodox Church, however, the heterodox sacrament of Baptism is itself accepted by extreme oikonomia as a genuine Mystery of Baptism. In a similar manner, the Orthodox Church also accepts clinical Baptism as genuine.
      3. (3) In the “Greek” theological understanding each Mystery stands on its own, and no Mystery depends upon another nor is affected (or “completed”) by another.
  4. 4. Married individuals received into parishes of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, who were previously received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation but who were not married in the Orthodox Church, should be encouraged to receive the Mystery of Marriage.

Return to Topics Index, click here.

PROCEDURES FOR SUBMITTING BAPTISM AND CHRISMATION CERTIFICATE

  1. 1. When an infant child is Baptized and Chrismated, the Priest shall complete the Form “Certificate of Birth and Baptism” (Attachment A) prior to celebrating the Mysteries; if desired, the priest may use an information form (see example, Attachment B) to gather necessary data for completing this form.
    1. a. Since this form is both a birth certificate and a Baptism certificate and is filed as such by the Metropolis Registry, the priest shall verify the child's birth place and birth date from his/her civil birth certificate.
    2. b. The form shall be signed by the Priest and by the Sponsor at the time of the Baptism.
    3. c. The original (top) copy of the completed and signed certificate shall be given to the parents at the time of the Baptism.
    4. d. The second (middle) copy of the completed and signed form shall be retained by the parish.
    5. e. The bottom (stiff cardboard) copy of the completed and signed form shall be submitted to the Metropolis Office.
      1. (1) The bottom portion of this copy, requesting additional information, is to be completed.
    6. f. All information is to be recorded in the Parish registry of Baptisms and Chrismations.
  2. 2. When an adult convert or older child is Baptized and Chrismated, the Priest shall complete the Form “Certificate of Baptism and Chrismation” (Attachment C) prior to celebrating the Mysteries.
    1. a. The form shall be signed by the Priest and by the Sponsor at the time of the Baptism.
    2. b. The original (top) copy of the completed and signed certificate shall be given to the convert at the time of the Baptism.
    3. c. The second (middle) copy of the completed and signed form shall be retained by the parish.
    4. d. The bottom (stiff cardboard) copy of the completed and signed form shall be submitted to the Metropolis Office.
    5. (1) The bottom portion of this copy, requesting additional information, is to be completed.
    6. e. All information is to be recorded in the Parish registry of Baptisms and Chrismations.
  3. 3. When a previously Baptized adult convert or older child is received into the Orthodox Church by oikonomia through Chrismation, the Priest shall complete the Form “Certificate of Holy Chrismation” (Attachment D) prior to performing the Mystery.
    1. a. The form shall be signed by the Priest and by the Sponsor at the time of the Chrismation.
    2. b. The original (top) copy of the completed and signed certificate shall be given to the convert at the time of the Baptism.
    3. c. The second (middle) copy of the completed and signed form shall be retained by the parish.
    4. d. The bottom (stiff cardboard) copy of the completed and signed form shall be submitted to the Metropolis Office.
    5. e. All information is to be recorded in the Parish registry of Baptisms and Chrismations.
    6. f. The bottom (stiff cardboard) copy of the completed and signed form shall be submitted to the Metropolis Office.
      1. (1) The bottom portion of this copy, requesting the former affiliation of the convert, is to be completed.
  4. 4. All forms shall be filled out completely, including:
    1. a. Full street, city, and state addresses.
    2. b. Full Month, day, and year dates.
    3. c. Exact Baptism and Chrismation dates (month, day, and year).
    4. d. First and last names of the individual receiving the Mysteries of Baptism and/or Chrismation provided in Greek if they are of Greek descent and always in English.
  5. 5. All Baptisms and Chrismations shall be recorded in the appropriate Parish Register.

Email: fr.luke@denver.goarch.org
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