Adding Creation Language to the Baptismal Covenant
The Diocese of Connecticut is requesting that the 78th General Convention authorize the trial addition of a sixth question to the Baptismal Covenant as follows: “Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?” (C015)
The additional sentence, drawn in part from Job 37:14, was developed after a Baptismal Covenant Working Group, appointed by the Diocesan Bishop, led a year long study and comment period including a survey to all congregations.
Adding language to the Baptismal Covenant that addresses just and loving relationships with God’s creation would bring the rite of Holy Baptism into alignment with the multitude of creation-centered references in Scripture and in the Book of Common Prayer. At the same time it would address a growing concern for the well-being of “this fragile earth, our island home” (BCP, 370).
During the study, the Working Group detected a strong sense of urgency and longing from the participating congregations to use this additional language, with the hope to do so now. This concern is leading an increasing number of congregations to add creation questions or additional wording of their own making to the Baptismal Covenant without any authorization on the part of General Convention. This is a pressing reason for allowing what is proposed here to be used throughout the Church on a trial basis.
Equally important is that the Working Group recognized that the shape of the Baptismal Covenant evolved over the course of the decade leading up to the adoption of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. In Services for Trial Use (1971) only two of the present five questions that follow the threefold recitation of the Apostles’ Creed were included. In Authorized Services (1973) two more questions were added. It was not until the publication of the Draft Proposed Book (1976) that concern over the omission of any reference to sin, repentance and recommitment to Christ was addressed by including the present second question. The Working Group concluded that the inclusion of a question about care for creation would be in keeping with the evolving character of the Baptismal Covenant from 1970 onwards.
- The Rev. Stephanie Johnson