A sacrament is a symbolic action, or ritual, by which people of faith encounter the presence and goodness of God. In a sacrament, ordinary things like water, bread, and wine are used to point us to God and God’s love, reminding us of the sacred in life.
In the United Church, we celebrate two sacraments: baptism, the ritual that formally recognizes we belong to the Christian community, and communion, a symbolic meal initiated by Jesus. These are of central importance to our faith.
Baptism is a symbolic action that signifies the new life God gives us as we join the church community.
Baptism uses water as a symbolic cleansing that signifies the acceptance of new life within the church family. The sacrament of baptism is the single rite of initiation into the Christian community, the church.
The United Church offers baptism to all ages. We believe the gift of God’s love doesn’t depend on our ability to understand it, so we baptize people as infants right up through adulthood.
With children, instruction is given to parents or sponsors to equip them for the child’s Christian nurture. During the ceremony, everyone in the congregation pledges support for the child and his or her parents.
Baptism is not a requirement for God’s love. We believe people who die without baptism are in no way condemned, lost, or damned.
Baptism in the United Church is recognized by all denominations of the Christian church that practise infant baptism. Similarly, if people have already been baptized in another church, the United Church recognizes their baptism and welcomes them as Christians.
The Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion—these different terms refer to the same sacrament shared by most Christian denominations, a symbolic meal.
Communion is celebrated at a table that suggests the dining table in our homes. At the communion table, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the host and all are guests. The meal uses the symbols of small pieces of bread and a taste of wine or juice to remind us of Jesus’ last supper with his followers and of God’s enduring love.
The United Church invites all who seek to love Jesus to share in this family meal.