Baptism must be in a font...?

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djdan
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Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby djdan » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:20 pm

Hi

Quick question - and this community appear to be a source for answers.

In my ward in the UK, we have been told that a new policy has come from the 1st Presidency which states that baptisms can no longer be performed in the sea or rivers, and must be in a font where a font is available (e.g. most churches). This directive came from the Mission, and on question, we were told it comes from the top. A recent convert had expressed desire to be baptised in the sea, but request was rejected on this basis.

Can anyone verify this? I have a strong dislike for when policies from a local leader are claimed to be "doctrinal" from the prophet. It happens a lot, and I suspect this is another case. I have not seen any church news / letters advising of this new policy.

Thanks

russellhltn
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby russellhltn » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:30 pm

I don't know about any new directive, but Handbook 2: 20.3.5 says "When a baptismal font is not available, any body of water ...".

So assuming that a baptismal font is available, using of sea or a river would not be permitted.
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djdan
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby djdan » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:56 pm

We are aware of that instruction, and it would be interesting if that was the 'new policy' we are being referred to. Does anyone know when that was stated in the instructions? I mean, has it always been worded like that, or have those words been selected more recently.

On that instruction, given that within the statement, baptism within "any body of water" is actually given acceptance, the key words are the initial part, "when a baptismal font is not available". The way that is worded seems to be a "preference" not a direct "do this" or "do that". For example, it is not worded "baptism must always be performed in a baptism font, unless that font is not available".

It seems to be very much a case of interpretation by the local leaders. Traditionally, many members have been baptised into our ward through "any body of water". The font has typically been used of late because... well... heated water !!! :) Therefore local leadership has always been prepared to allow members to be baptised outside of the font. This new policy claim came as a shock.

Of course, I can understand that the focus should be the baptism itself and not the means (water used), but still, our preference would be to enable the individual to have a fulfilling experience in the way desired - not that it takes away from the full meaning and commitment of baptism.

Again, any other clairification would be appreciated. Thanks

russellhltn
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby russellhltn » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:40 pm

Based on this thread, I don't think this is something new.

It would not surprise me in the least if what happened is someone in the mission read the manual, looked at local practice and issued the letter. It might be something new from the mission, but it seems to have clear backing by the Handbook. So it would be nothing new. And yes, the Handbook is reviewed at the highest level.

The lack of a "thou shalt not" is just the way the manual is written. "not available" seems pretty clear to me, but then I'm not in the line of authority for your area. But your mission is. And in the case of converts, they're the ones who gets to interpret it.
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby lajackson » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:37 pm

djdan wrote:. . . the key words are the initial part, "when a baptismal font is not available".

Those words were added to the 1998 Church Handbook of Instructions, so they are not very new. The previous 1983 General Handbook of Instructions began the sentence without the phrase by referring to any body of water.

Safety seems to be a concern. And presiding priesthood leaders do make the decisions. I attended a baptism just last week in a stake where "all eight-year-old children are baptized on the third Saturday of the month at 1:00 pm at the stake center." I am glad it was not my stake, but that's the way they do it there and it seemed to work well for them, especially based on the number of children who were baptized.

djdan
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby djdan » Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:14 am

Thanks for the feedback.

In all, it does sound like this policy that we are directed to is just the Handbook of Instructions. Therefore, I'm inclined to believe that there has been no new directive from the 1st Presidency, and that the Mission President is just wishing to enforce the instruction from that book. Disappointing really given the way this news came - but if that's his interpretation then fine. Just don't say there is a new policy from the top! ;)

At least local leaders (i.e. bishop) would have authority over a child of record baptism, and that handbook of instructions is a guide only, to be interpreted by local leadership.

Thanks again,

russellhltn
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Re: Baptism must be in a font...?

Postby russellhltn » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:27 pm

djdan wrote:Therefore, I'm inclined to believe that there has been no new directive from the 1st Presidency, and that the Mission President is just wishing to enforce the instruction from that book.

I think it's safe to say that it's not a new policy. But we can't rule out that recent communication has reinforced this policy. Perhaps in a conference that involved the mission president or a visiting general authority.

And there's always the possibility that there was a recent incident that caused this to come up. There's any number of things that can go wrong when doing baptisms in places other than a font - from trouble with authorities, heckling from bystanders to physical hazards.
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