Planning A Long Distance Baptism

Many faiths practice baptism, and the ritual is followed even by those who are not particularly religious.  Baptism represents a washing away of sin and a welcoming to the faith.  Baptism at any age is an extraordinary and special event; when it is a baby or child being baptized, it is that much more meaningful for family and friends.  Planning a baptism isn’t difficult; as with any event, it requires some preparation and a little bit of work.  Planning a long-distance baptism doesn’t have to be any more challenging or stressful.

The first question to answer is why do you need a long-distance baptism at all?  It could be that you’ve had a child but you live far away from most of your friends and family.  It could be that you live somewhere else but want your child baptized in the very same church you were baptized in.  Or it could be that you are the one being baptized and want to be welcomed into a church that happens to be further away.  Whatever the reason, a long-distance baptism may be a necessity for you.  You can make it work.  The first item on your to-do list is to contact the officiator of the church in which you would like the ceremony conducted.

A church official, whether the pastor, priest, minister, or lay assistant, can answer any questions you have about the requirements for baptism.  Some churches require that parents take baptism classes before the rite can take place.  If you are the one being baptized, you will almost certainly have to take classes to learn more about the faith so you can make an informed, conscious decision to follow Christ and that faith.  If this is a requirement in the church you want, you can call a church of the same faith in your area and see if they offer classes.  You may also ask if independent lessons or private meetings with the pastor will suffice.

Ask which specific documents you need to provide the church.  These may include:

  • A baptismal application
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Certificate or letter as proof that baptism classes have been attended (if required)
  • Letter of permission from parish priest
  • Marriage certificate (in the Catholic Church, for instance, godparents who live “together as husband and wife” need to show a marriage certificate as proof of a valid marriage.

There may be others that you are required to provide, so make sure to ask. Make a list, and check off each item when you have made a copy and sent it to the church.

Next, you will want to decide on a time.  If you have a date in mind, see if the church is available on that day.  Some only do baptisms on certain days, while others are more flexible.  Check on availability as soon as possible.  This is also a good time to ask potential godparents or sponsors if they would like to take part in the ceremony and whether they can travel or attend on the specified date.

Decide who you want to invite and send invitations so you can get a fairly accurate idea of how many guests you are having.  Besides the ceremony at the church, you may also want to hold a gathering or reception after the baptism, where you can celebrate new life and open Christening gifts.  In this case, make sure you have the use of a friend or family member’s home or rent a hall.  Because you are working on this long-distance, you may want to hire a caterer.  Having a small reception in a restaurant may be a good alternative. If it's too much stress, skip the baptism favors and just focus on a few simple things such as food, cake and decor.

Planning a baptism, especially one long-distance, takes preparation.  Get help from your church, make a good to-do list, and approach each task one at a time.

More on baptism:

Baptism Gift Ideas for Baby