The Canon of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion) of the Armenian Apostolic Church
The Order of Baptism of the Armenian Apostolic Church includes three sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and the First Communion. Together, they make up one’s initiation into the Armenian Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself received baptism and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit when He was baptized by Saint John the Baptist in the Jordan River. By this example, Christ the Lord set a standard by which all individuals can become children of God. The church faithfully and diligently observes Christ’s ordinance to baptize all who want to enter the Kingdom of God.
The three sacraments of the baptismal service are:
The order of Baptism is a public service. In this rite of Christian initiation, the child is brought into the fullness of the church of Christ, welcomed into the fellowship of the community, and invited by the priest to a new life with the assurance of salvation. Baptism is celebrated only once in a person's life. The Church's creed, which is the profession of faith, declares quite clearly that we believe in only one baptism for the forgiveness and remission of sins. If baptism had been administered in any Christian church in the name of the Holy Trinity-The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit-the rite cannot be repeated again. It is accepted as valid and sacramental.
The role of the parents and Godparents
The parents and Godparents are responsible for the child's Christian upbringing. They should educate the child so that he or she comes to know God, Jesus, His Son, and the power and graces of the Holy Spirit. They should set an example by constantly worshipping and speaking about their faith as Christians. Parents and Godparents promise to bring the child to God in accordance with the Orthodox faith of the Armenian church. At one point during the service, the Godparents, on behalf of the child who cannot yet speak, will declare their Orthodox faith. The child of God-whether an adult or infant-is taken into the fellowship of the Church where he or she will grow in Christ. It is expected that the parents and Godparents will strive to develop the spiritual growth of the child, and will do so by setting an example of full participation in the life of the church and parish community. Because the Godparents bring the child into the fellowship of the church, it is essential that either the Godfather or Godmother (or both), be communicant members of the same faith into which the child is being baptized; preferably, members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. If only one of the Godparents is a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the other Godparent must have been baptized in the Christian faith.
The duties of the Godparents during the service
It is customary that the Godparents gift the child a small cross that will be blessed during the service and worn by the child. During the service, the Godparents will renounce Satan, profess the Baptismal Creed, and state the requests of the child. They will recite the following:
The full washing of the child should be done at home on the third day after the baptism. The water used for the bath should not be emptied down the drain, but should be poured into the soil of a garden or lawn. Similarly, when the undergarments of the child are washed for the very first time after the baptism, the water should be dispensed of in the same manner. The reason for this is that there may still be some Holy muron (oil) left on the child's body, which has now been transferred into the water, and this muron should not be poured down the drain.
How to schedule the baptism
Call the church office at least six weeks prior to the desired baptism date. According to the canon, practice and tradition of the Armenian Church, the sacrament should be administered between the fortieth day and the sixth month after the birth of the child. Baptisms can take place on any day of the week. Once you contact the church, the office will mail you a baptismal form (it is also available online). You should enter the information exactly how you want the baptismal certificate to read (first name, middle name, Armenian name, etc.). Baptismal records are legal documents, so all information must be correct and complete. Prior to the baptism, the pastor will meet with the parents and Godparents to discuss the sacrament and their responsibilities.
What to bring to the baptism
Fees must be paid to the Church office one week prior to the baptism date.
*Both parents of the child must be dues-paying members in good standing of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church. It is an Armenian custom that an honorarium for the Pastor is made after the baptismal service. This honorarium can be given directly to the Pastor after the service is completed.