Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Houston, TX

 

Holy Baptism

“All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism, just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us.” (St. Nikitas Stithatos, On Spiritual Knowledge)

In the Sacrament of Baptism, a person is incorporated into the crucified, resurrection and glorified Christ and is reborn to participate in the divine life. Each baptized person also shares in the royal priesthood of the people of God:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Peter 2:9).

It is through baptism, therefore, that one becomes a fully participating member of the Church, and is made an heir of eternal life.

Guidelines for Baptism

I. Requirements Prior to the Baptism for the parents:

  1. Active Church Membership

A Baptism is a privilege that requires a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise the child in the Orthodox Church. If parents are not active members of the Orthodox Church, you must demonstrate a desire to become active for the sacrament to be approved. Parents are the primary role models for their children in living a committed life to Christ. Commitment to Christ is expressed in regularly attending Sunday liturgy, participating in the sacramental life of the Church and being a current Steward of the Church.

  • If you have previously baptized a child and the child has not been attending services, a request to have another child baptized requires a discussion with the priest.
  • If parents are not regularly attending an Orthodox Church and want to schedule a baptism, an appointment should be made with the priest in order to discuss the situation.

"Good Standing" Requirements for an Orthodox Christian

  1. Married in the Orthodox Church. If you were not married in the Orthodox Church, your marriage needs to be blessed in the Church in order to be in good standing. 
  2. A Steward Commitment Form needs to be completed for the current year.
  3. Actively attending the divine services on Sundays.

Choosing a Sponsor or Godparent

In the Baptismal service, the Church requires a Sponsor/Godparent (koumbaros - male, Koumbara - female). The Godparent is the one who vouches for the child and the family as to the sincerity of the reasons why they are seeking baptism. In addition, godparents serve to guide, teach, and counsel their godchildren in the Orthodox faith. The Church requires that the Godparent be an Orthodox Christian in good standing; there are no exceptions to this rule. The priest can help couples in the selection of godparents if needed. 

"Honorary" Godparents

 In some cases parents request a "non-Orthodox" person serve as an "honorary godparent" for their children. The Church does not permit honorary godparents. Perhaps, close friends may be considered as "aunts" or "uncles" or "Theo" and "Thea" this identifies them as being a part of one's family.

Requirements to Serve as a Godparent 

  • Must be an Orthodox Christian, Non-Orthodox Christians may not participate in the Sacrament of Baptism as a Godparent. 
  • A Contributing Steward of an Orthodox Parish. 
  • If married, must be in the Orthodox Christian Church.
  • If married in the Orthodox Church and are now divorced, they need to obtain an Ecclesiastical Divorce Decree prior to the Sacrament. 
  • A parishioner may serve as a sponsor in another Parish by presenting a letter of good standing from his or her home Parish Priest.

The Godparent anoints the child with blessed oil during the ceremony. By participating in the sacrament in this manner, the Godparent is making a pledge to guide and support to their Godchild.

Godparent Customs

  • It is customary for the Godparent to bring their Godchild to Holy Communion for three consecutive Sundays after the Baptism. This is done in order to form the habit of frequent communion for the child.

II. Scheduling Your Baptism

 Baptismal arrangements are only conducted between the priest and the child's parents. Grandparents/relatives, please have your children contact the parish priest. In order to provide parents with every opportunity to understand the significance of baptizing one's child, an appointment with the parents and the priest is necessary.

Once a date for the baptism is scheduled, please complete the Baptismal Information Form.

III. Frequently asked Questions:

Naming the Child

 If the child was not given a Christian name (a saint's name) one must be selected. The giving of a Christian name establishes a life-long relationship between the child and their saint. Fr. Michael can assist in selecting a name.

Purchasing Baptismal Candles and Martyrika (witness crosses with ribbon) 

 Traditionally, the newly baptized receive a decorated candle at baptism. Some provide their guests with martyrika (witness pins) which can be personalized with the child's name and date of the baptism. Candles should be white with a simple type of ribbon. No stuffed animals/evil eyes or non-Christian items will be allowed to be attached to the candles or the Baptismal Cross. 

Length of the Baptism 

 The Baptism service is approximately 40 minutes long.

Honorariums

  • If a chanter is requested, a $100.00 honorarium is requested.
  • An honorarium for the baptism may be offered to the priest at your discretion.

Fees

  • There is no fee for the Sacrament; however, it is required that you are a current Steward of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. A signed pledged form along with your donation should be completed before the baptism. 

Days when baptisms are not permitted: 

Baptisms may not be performed from Christmas Day through the Feast of Theophany (December 25-January 6), during Holy Week, or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord.

Baptismal Checklist

The following items are either provided by the parents or the Godparents.

  • Cross & Chain
  • White Outfit for after the Service & "One-zee"
  • A Small Bottle of Olive Oil
  • A Bar of Ivory soap
  • 2 white hand towels
  • 1 Large White Bath Towel - (If a double baptism - bring 2)
  • 1 Large Candle- (If a double baptism - bring 2)
  • Optional additional smaller candles for Children to participate in a procession

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3511 Yoakum Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006
Office: (713) 526-5377
Fax: (713) 526-1048
Office Hours: Weekdays 8am-4:30pm