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Petition


Development of New Worship Resources and Certificates for the Dedication of Infants

A RESOLUTION SUBMITTED TO THE 1999 VIRGINIA CONFERENCE
FOR A PROPOSED PETITION TO THE 2000 GENERAL CONFERENCE


Whereas the United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 as the successor of the former Methodist Church and of the former Evangelical United Brethren Church; and

Whereas an official ritual entitled "The Dedication of Infants" (as well as a ritual for "The Baptism of Infants") was contained in the Book of Ritual, as part of the Discipline of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1963), and was in use at the time of the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church in 1968; and

Whereas, from the time of merger in 1968 until the approval of The United Methodist Book of Worship in 1992, the United Methodist Church recognized that the Ritual of the Church included what was contained in the Book of Ritual of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1963); and

 

Whereas The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) contains no service for the dedication of infants; and

Whereas many persons come into the life of the United Methodist Church from other Christian traditions which practice infant dedication; and

Whereas some parents within the United Methodist Church desire to dedicate an infant to God and to God’s service, but desire to reserve the Sacrament of Baptism until the child makes personal commitment to Christ; and

Whereas the official statement of the United Methodist Church on Baptism, entitled "By Water and the Spirit," which was approved by the 1996 General Conference, affirms, "We respect the sincerity of parents who choose not to have their infants baptized. . . ." And

Whereas 5 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (1996) states in part, "As part of the church universal, The United Methodist Church believes that the Lord of the church is calling Christians everywhere to strive toward unity;" and

Whereas 60 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (1996) states in part,

Nourished by common roots of this shared Christian heritage, the branches

of Christ’s church have developed diverse traditions that enlarge our store

of shared understandings. Our avowed ecumenical commitment as United

Methodists is to gather our own doctrinal emphases into the larger Christian

unity, there to be made more meaningful in a richer whole.

And,

Whereas 117 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (1996) states in part,

Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all

persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world.

Thus, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination.

And,

Whereas references in the New Testament to specific households who were baptized may or may not have included infants; and

Whereas there are no explicit references in the New Testament either to the dedication of an infant or to the baptism of an infant in the early years of the church; and

Whereas there is no prohibition in Holy Scripture against the practice of infant dedication or against the practice of infant baptism;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church hereby petitions the 2000 General Conference of the United Methodist Church for the development of new worship resources and official certificates for the dedication of infants.


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