Erlebnis-Raum Taufe

Baptism 2017
The position of the churches today

Baptism 2017

Design of baptismal font by Lisa Reizig
Design of baptismal font by Lisa Reizig

In the Ev.-luth. Church of Hanover every year 22.000 children and 1.800 adults (above the age of 14) are baptized. Fora few years now, the average age of children, who are baptized, is rising. At the same time, the cases of numbers of adult baptisms are rising. Adult baptism mostly is preceded by intensive preparation.

Baptizing children is based on the belief that God’s grace precedes all human activity (Latin ‘gratia praeveniens’). God’s grace, given in advance, is regarded as a criterion stronger than any human criterion. To the little child, having no other gift than life itself, the pledge is given: ”Because of Christ you are a child loved by God. You shall belong to the worldwide community of believers.”

Baptism, understood in this way, first of all is a gift of God to man, which shall not be kept from anyone who asks for it. Only as a second thought baptism is consequential for a church’s organization. This has led to the understanding that only as an exception the church can refuse to baptize.

This change in the understanding of baptism is reflected by the Magdeburg Declaration from 2007. In it the 11 member churches of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK) have agreed on mutual recognition of baptism in all of the 11 member churches. The most important passage of the document says:

ˮThat is why we recognize every baptism which has been done according to the order of Jesus in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with submersion or the application of water, and we are glad for every person who has been baptized. Our mutual recognition of baptism is an expression of our unity in Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6). All baptisms done in this way are singular and must not cannot be repeated.”
Excerpt Magdeburg Declaration, April 29, 2007

As a rule baptism takes place in a church. However, inspired by ˮThe Year of Baptism 2011” in our territorial church, large ”festivals of baptism” have been established. During these festivals persons of all ages are baptized, followed by a party for all attending. Often these festivals are open-air events on a river or on a lake.

Baptizing small children and caring about the theological meaning of baptism has consequences: it is followed by the responsibility of the congregation to stay in close touch with the family of the newly baptized child and to regularly offer services remembering baptism. Proper procedures for this are being developed.

  • Roman-Catholic Church
  • Ev. Church in Germany (EKD)
  • Orthodox Church in Germany
  • Ev.-methodist Church
  • Free Ev.-luth. Church
  • Armenian-Apostolic Orthodox Church in Germany
  • Catholic Diocese of the Old-Catholic Church in Germany
  • Ethiopian-Orthodox Church
  • Ev.-Old Reformed Church in Lower Saxony
  • Church of the Brethren (Herrnhut)
  • Association of Anglican-Episcopal Congregations in Germany