How Baptism is Conducted in the LDS (Mormon) Church

This Priesthood Ordinance is Generally Simple and Brief

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Cook, Krista. "How Baptism is Conducted in the LDS (Mormon) Church." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-baptism-is-conducted-2158877. Cook, Krista. (2017, March 2). How Baptism is Conducted in the LDS (Mormon) Church. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-baptism-is-conducted-2158877 Cook, Krista. "How Baptism is Conducted in the LDS (Mormon) Church." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-baptism-is-conducted-2158877 (accessed October 24, 2017).
baptismal attire
A new member and the priesthood holder in baptismal attire on his baptismal day. Missionaries and others are included in this picture. Photo courtesy of © 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

To become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (LDS/Mormon) you must be at least eight years old or an adult convert.

Actual baptism services are nearly identical for either group. However, priesthood responsibilities in overseeing, conducting and performing the baptism may differ slightly for children or converts. The differences have to do with administration. However, any person baptized will undergo and experience the same process.

Baptism is the first ordinance in the gospel. It is a physical witness of making certain sacred covenants with Heavenly Father. To understand what promises are made, read the following:

First Ordinance: Baptism

What Happens Before the Baptism

Before anyone is baptized, efforts have already been made to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. They must understand why it is important to be baptized and what promises they are making.

Missionaries generally help teach potential converts. Parents and local church leaders ensure that children are taught what they need to know.

Local church leaders and other priesthood holders arrange for the baptism to take place.

Characteristics of a Typical Baptismal Service

As directed by top church leaders, baptismal services should be simple, brief and spiritual. Also,all other guidelines must be followed. This includes guidelines contained in the Handbook, the Church's policies and procedures manual available online.

Most meetinghouses contain baptismal fonts for this purpose. If they are not available, any suitable body of water can be used, such as the ocean or a swimming pool. There has to be enough water to fully immerse the person in it. White baptismal clothing, that remains opaque when wet, is generally available for those being baptized and those performing the baptism.

A typical baptismal service will normally contain the following:

  • Prelude music
  • Brief welcome by a priesthood leader
  • Opening song, hymn and prayer
  • Short talks on relevant topics, like baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost
  • Brief musical selection
  • The baptism itself
  • Time spent reverently while those involved change into dry clothing
  • The confirmation of the baptized person
  • Closing hymn and prayer
  • Postlude music

Baptismal services take about one hour and sometimes less.

How the Baptism Ordinance is Performed

The procedure is straight out of scripture in 3 Nephi 11:21-22 and especially D&C 20:73-74:

The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

Twenty five words and a quick immersion. This is all it takes!

What Happens Afterward

After being baptized, the second ordinance takes place. This involves being confirmed by the laying on of hands and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

To understand this process, read the following:

Second Ordinance: Gift of the Holy Ghost

The confirmation ordinance is correspondingly brief. The priesthood holder(s) gently put their hands on the baptized person's head. The man performing this ordinance states the person's name, invokes the priesthood authority he holds, confirms the person a member and directs the person to receive the Holy Ghost.

The actual confirmation only takes a few seconds. However, the priesthood holder may add a few words, usually of blessing, if he is directed to do so by the Holy Ghost. Otherwise, he closes in the name of Jesus Christ and says Amen.

Records are Made and Things are Formalized

The newly baptized and confirmed person is officially added to the membership of the Church. Usually done by ward clerks, these men fill out and submit records to the Church.

The baptized person will receive a baptismal and confirmation certificate and will be issued a Membership Record Number (MRN).

This official membership record applies worldwide. If a person moves somewhere, his or her membership record will be transferred to the new ward or branch the person is assigned to attend.

The MRN will endure unless the person voluntarily withdraws from the Church or has his or her membership revoked through excommunication.