Discipline ¶226

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  ¶ 226. Care of Children and Youth-1. Because the redeeming love of God revealed in Jesus Christ extends to all persons, and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in baptism at an early age. Before baptism is administered, the pastor shall diligently instruct the parents or guardians regarding the meaning of this sacrament and the vows that they assume. It is expected of parents or guardians who present their children for baptism that they shall use all diligence in bringing them up in conformity to the Word of God and in the fellowship of the Church and to encourage them to participate in preparation for their profession of faith and confirmation at the appropriate time. At least one parent or guardian shall be a member of a Christian church; or sponsor(s) or godparent(s) who are members shall renew their own baptismal vows. They shall be admonished of this obligation and be earnestly exhorted to faithfulness therein. At the time of baptism they shall be informed that the Church, with its Christian education program, will aid them in the Christian nurture of their children.
2. a) The pastor of the church shall, at the time of administering the sacrament of baptism, furnish the parent(s), guardian(s), sponsor(s), or godparent(s) of the child who is baptized with a certificate of baptism, which shall also clearly state that the child is now a baptized member in The United Methodist Church.  
    b) The pastor shall be responsible for seeing that the membership secretary adds the full name of the baptized child to the membership record.  
c) When the baptized child lives in a community not served by the pastor who administers the sacrament of baptism, the pastor shall ensure this is not a private event (that the body of Christ beyond the immediate family is present in accordance with ¶ 224 of the Book of Discipline), and is responsible for contacting in advance (where possible) and reporting the baptism to a pastor and/or district superintendent who serves in the area where the baptized child lives. The pastor administering the sacrament shall then be responsible for reporting in writing to that pastor or district superintendent the child’s name to be entered on the record of a church in that location.
d) A pastor of a church who receives notification of a baptism administered elsewhere shall be responsible for entering the required information on that church’s record and for notifying the pastor who administered the baptism that the child has been received by transfer. When the pastor of the church in which the child is baptized receives written confirmation that the child’s name has been entered on the membership record of another church, a notation may be made on the record of the church where the sacrament was administered that the child has been transferred to another church.
e) The pastor shall, at the time of administering the sacrament of baptism and at other appropriate times, admonish members of the congregation of their responsibility for the Christian nurture of the child.
  3. The pastor or membership secretary shall regularly review the membership record to identify those who have not become professing members, for purposes of nurturing them toward profession of faith. The number of people so identified shall be reported annually, or at such other times as may be requested, to the charge conference or the annual conference. The congregation has ongoing responsibility to nurture baptized children, youth, and adults in the life of discipleship until they become professing members and accept God’s grace for themselves.
4. It shall be the duty of the pastor, the parent(s), guardian(s), sponsor(s), or godparent(s), the officers and teachers of the church school,the local church scouting coordinator, and all members of the congregation to provide training for the children of the Church throughout their childhood that will lead to a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to an understanding of the Christian faith and the meaning of of baptism. Building on the preparation that youth have received throughout their childhood, the pastor shall, at least annually, organize them into classes to the end that they may profess their faith and be confirmed (¶ 216). This instruction shall be based on materials produced by The United Methodist Church or on other resources that present the mission, history, doctrine, and beliefs of The United Methodist Church for this purpose. When youth so prepared shall give evidence of their own Christian faith, and understanding of the meaning and practice of membership, they may be received as professing members. The God and Me and God and Family portions of the God and Country program may be available to elementary children as an additional resource (¶ 256.4).
5. Youth who are members of the Church have all rights
and responsibilities of membership within the baptismal covenant. (See ¶ 256.3.) It is strongly recommended that each local church offer for all senior high youth continuing instruction in the meaning of the Christian life and discipleship. It is further recommended that this course, taught by or under the guidance of the pastor, or other staff or lay person, emphasize the doctrines of The United Methodist Church and the nature and mission of the Church, leading to continued growth in the knowledge, grace, and service of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God and Country program may be available to all youth, with the God and Church portion providing study of The United Methodist Church, and the God and Life program challenging the youth to integrate their faith into their daily life (¶ 256.4) It shall be the responsibility of the pastor to participate in the growth process through interaction and ministry with youth.