Sacrament of Baptism 

The Sacrament of Baptism is one of the seven Sacraments of the Church – “being born of the Spirit (John 3:5).” After Baptism, a person becomes a member of the Church and gains access to all church Sacraments, primarily Holy Communion, in which, according to Church teaching, the union of a person with God occurs. 

It is necessary to arrange in advance with the priest to perform the Sacrament. Before Baptism, you should arrive half an hour before the start, prepare a Baptism certificate, purchase a baptismal cross and candles. 

Within a week after baptism, it is necessary to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ on any day of the week (when the Liturgy is served). Infants up to 7 years old take the Holy Communion without confession, preferably fasting. Adults must fast and read the prayers in preparation for the Holy Communion. 

Please register in advance through the office at 845-356-0425 or email

History of the Establishment of the Sacrament 

In the Old Testament. The history of the Old Testament Church shows that water baptism was established since the post-Maccabean period (beginning with the Roman conquest of Judea in 63 BC). It symbolized not only the physical but also the moral purification of the person undergoing it. With this baptism, John the Forerunner baptized those coming to him in Bethany by the Jordan River (John 1:28). When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to John, they asked him: “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” (John 1:25). This question indirectly shows how important baptism by water was for Jews. Jesus Christ, having received this baptism from John, the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptizer of the Lor, in the waters of the Jordan, to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15), thereby sanctified it. The prototypes of baptism are visible in the ritual washings (Lev. 14:8, 15:5), which in Old Testament prophecies symbolize cleansing from sins. 

In the New Testament. The Sacrament of Baptism itself was established by Christ before His Ascension when He told the disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and surely, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19–20). Generally, all the Sacraments existing in the Church are directly established by Christ, but in the New Testament, He speaks clearly only of three most important ones: Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confession. From the words of the Lord, spoken to Nicodemus during a nighttime conversation, it is clear that the Sacrament of Baptism has an exceptional significance for a person: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto Thee, Ye must be born again (John 3:5–7). 

 Godparents (Sponsors) 

A sponsor is a person who assumes the responsibility of guiding their godchild in spiritual life, praying for them, overseeing their upbringing, and teaching them to live a godly life, diligence, humility, abstinence, love, and other virtues. The godparent also bears some responsibility for the actions of their godchild. 

It is considered necessary to have only one sponsor—a man for a baptized male or a woman for a baptized female. However, according to a tradition established in Russia since the 15th century, there are usually two sponsors: a man and a woman. 

Throughout the duration of the Sacrament, sponsors hold their godchildren in their arms. After the infant is immersed three times in the baptismal font, the sponsor (of the same sex as the infant) must dry the child’s body with a clean cloth or towel. Moreover, at the appropriate moment of the Sacrament the sponsor should recite the Nicene Creed and answer the priest’s questions about renouncing Satan and uniting with Christ. 

In choosing godparents for their children, parents should be guided primarily not by considerations of their high social or financial status, but by the confidence that the future godparents, being faithful children of the Orthodox Church, will be able to fulfill the responsibilities imposed on them by the institution of sponsorship. 

Who Cannot be a Sponsor (Godparent) in the Russian Church 

– Mentally ill individuals, those completely ignorant in faith, as well as criminals, manifest sinners, and all people generally fallen low in public opinion due to their moral behavior cannot be sponsors. Those who have not confessed and received Holy Communion for 5-10 years, obviously due to negligence, cannot provide their godchildren guidance and instruction, which is the responsibility of sponsors (Cited from: S.V. Bulgakov, “Handbook for Church Clergy,” 1913). 

At present, there are several categories of people who cannot be sponsors for a specific person due to various criteria. These include a certain degree of kinship and monastic vows taken by the person who is asked to become a sponsor for a child or an adult. 

People who cannot be sponsors (godparents): 

– Monks and nuns; 

– Parents for their own children; 

– Individuals who are married to each other (or engaged couples) cannot baptize the same infant, as marital life is not permissible in spiritual kinship. However, spouses are allowed to be sponsors for different children of the same parents, but at different times; 

– Non-believers; 

– Unbaptized individuals; 

– Minors; 

– People with mental illness; 

– People who arrive at the church in an intoxicated state. 

Preparation of Adults for Baptism 

Adults wishing to be baptized should have an understanding of the most important components of the Orthodox faith. If the person being baptized has not attended catechetical classes, they should independently acquire the knowledge given there from Orthodox literature of relevant content. 

They should know the main part of the dogmatic teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Son of God, His Crucifixion and Resurrection, about the Church of Christ, and the Sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist, as well as other necessary catechetical information. Furthermore, they should know by heart the Nicene Creed and two essential prayers: the Lord’s Prayer and “Hail, O Virgin Mother of God.” 

An adult should, if possible, prepare for the Sacrament of Baptism with a three-day (or better, seven-day) fast, meaning abstaining from meat, dairy products, eggs, alcohol, smoking, foul language, and reconciling with those with whom they are in conflict. Those living in marriage should abstain from marital relations during this time. 

Baptism is a spiritual birth, in which by the power of being clothed in Christ, the natural person with inherent original sin dies and a new person is born. This is the assimilation of the saving power of Christ’s redemptive feat. This sacrament is unique in that, in the absence of a priest, it can be performed by a layperson (man or woman) by virtue of the universal Christian priesthood. However, it can only be performed by a Christian, through the power of the Church, which he or she represents here. Baptism performed by a non-Christian is not valid (as allowed by Roman Catholicism), for it is a grace-filled act of the Church, not a magical act. The form of its performance is triple immersion in the name of the Holy Trinity… Any Christian baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is valid, not only within but also outside Orthodoxy, as evidenced by the practice of both the ancient and modern Church, which, as a rule, does not rebaptize those who have been baptized once (except for particularly motivated exceptions). 

Chrismation is performed in the Orthodox Church immediately after baptism. It cannot be performed by a layperson but only by a priest or bishop, and the holy myrrh for it is consecrated by a council of bishops. Thus, in this sense, it is a bishop’s sacrament, although it is directly performed by a priest. It signifies the universal ordination, which in the early Church was performed over the baptized by the apostles themselves, although not into the hierarchical rank, but into the sacred order of laypeople. Therefore, it is performed by the power of the episcopate in the Church. It opens access to a grace-filled life in the Church through participation in all church Sacraments. Christians who convert to Orthodoxy from denominations that have lost the grace of priesthood are received through chrismation, thereby being, so to speak, ordained into the rank of laypeople, members of the Church, and only after chrismation are they admitted to participate in church Sacraments. Chrismation, in which anointing with chrism is performed with the words “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” corresponds to the personal Pentecost in the life of every Christian. In it, each receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, inherent to them, restoring the glory inherent in the soul and body of the original Adam, lost at the fall (Romans 3:23), the beginning of transformation and resurrection. 

 Archpriest Sergey Bulgakov. Orthodoxy. Essay on the Orthodox Church Teachings. 1964