How does the baptism process work?

Q: I have not met with any missionaries yet, but after researching the LDS faith then praying about it, I learned it was the truth.  It was such a moving spiritual experience, and I wept with joy when it was confirmed to be to be the truth.  I was overcome with peace and joy.  I purchased a copy of the BOM and have started to read it and listen to it (on my iPod).  I know I wish to be baptized.  I understand that I need to meet with the missionaries and attend church.  I just wondered, that as I already know the truth, and wish to be baptized, how quickly this would happen.  And thank you for your very helpful website.

A: This is absolutely wonderful!  I am so happy to hear that you have experienced that unexplainable joy that a person feels when Heavenly Father answers the sincere prayer to know if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the truth.  And how wonderful to hear that you wish to be baptized, because you know the truth.

You are correct, you do need to meet with the missionaries and attend church.  Also they will teach you a handful of lessons about the fundamental teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They will also ask you to do a few things: commit to live the Word of Wisdom, commit to pay tithing, commit to only having sexual relations with your spouse to whom you are lawfully married (live the law of chastity), and also attend church.

To answer your question specifically, as you already have received an answer to your prayers and desire to be baptized, together you will schedule a day for your baptism as soon as you are ready and meet the requirements in the previous paragraph.  It could be in four or five days (enough time to teach you the lessons), or it could be in a few weeks.  The missionaries will help you to make this decision.

Prior to your baptism you will have an interview with one of the missionaries who will ask you some specific questions about your decision to be baptized and your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your savior and your desire to be one of his disciples. In addition, you will be asked if you are living the commandments you have been asked to live.  You may also be asked to meet with the bishop or branch president of your local congregation before your baptism.

After this interview process, your baptism will occur.  Oftentimes, baptisms are held at a local church where there is a small pool (font) specifically for baptisms.  If you are in an area where there isn’t a font available, the baptism might be held at a local pool, in the ocean, or in a river.  The specific location isn’t terribly important, just as long as there is water deep enough for you to be completely immersed in the water. You and the man who will be baptizing you will be dressed in white.  It is important to note that the man baptizing you will have God’s approval to perform this important ordinance for you and since he has God’s approval to do this, God recognizes your baptism as being legitimate. After being welcomed, there will be a song, prayer, and then a talk given on baptism.  Your baptism will then occur.  After which, there is a talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Then one of two things will happen, either everyone will go home and you will be confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the next Sunday, or this will occur directly after you are baptized.  This proceeds as follows: a handful of men who have God’s approval to do so, will put their hands on your head and confirm you a member of The Christ of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and bestow upon you the gift of the Holy Ghost.  They will stand around you as you sit on a chair.  One of the men will act as voice for the rest of the group.  I won’t repeat here the first part of this ordinance, as it should be held sacred, but the second part is a blessing that is specifically tailored for your needs and comes by revelation from God to the man acting as voice.

After receiving these two ordinances, baptism and being confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, your feet are planted solidly in the strait and narrow way that Christ spoke of that leads to eternal life.  There will be many people along your way to help you, but most importantly, you will have the gift of the Holy Ghost, who will be your constant companion as long as you are keeping Christ’s commandments the best that you can and relying upon Him in all that you do.   The Holy Ghost has many roles, but he will provide you with comfort, he will teach you, he testifies of Christ and truth, he warns you of danger, and much more.

I am so excited for you, please let us know when you are baptized.  Please let us know if you have any other questions.  May the Lord bless you!

Here are some links to other articles about baptism:

Repentance before baptism

What does baptism entail?


What is a baptismal service like?


What Do Mormons Believe: Thoughts on Service

Jesus Raising Jarius' DaughterThis last week a question was received asking about service, a pretty broad topic to be sure.  As I’ve pondered what to write in response, I kept thinking about how important the principle of service is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In Mathew 25:31-46, Christ teaches us a little about the final judgement.  He makes it clear how much our standing will depend on the service we give others.  In verses 34-40, He addresses those who have filled their lives with service,

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.”

What strikes me most in these words is the attitude of these righteous people.  They served without thought of what they would get out of it.  They even seemed surprised that they were being rewarded for their acts of kindness.  Christ spent His life this way – compassionately serving those around Him – and has commanded us to follow His example (3 Nephi 12:48, Mathew 5:48).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first sacred promise we make is at baptism.  This promise is to follow our Savior’s example of service and act as He would.  In return, we are promised forgiveness for our sins and help through the gift of the Holy Ghost as we repent.  Alma, a great missionary and prophet in the Book of Mormon, describes this promise and our commitment to follow Christ (Mosiah 18:8-10),

“And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they my be light:

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”

Serving others as selflessly as Christ did takes practice for me.  However, as I keep trying I can feel the Savior’s love for those I’m helping, and I develop a more Christ-like love for them too.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that His atonement is the greatest act of service and love anyone could do for us.  He truly is the perfect Examplar.

What does Baptism Entail?

Q. I’m christened Roman Catholic, my son has just joined a Mormon group, he said that he is to be baptized in 14 days. What does this entail and what are their views on me being a Catholic?

Guest author Jared responds:

What a great question! My grandpa is also a christened Roman Catholic, and several years ago he was in the exact same situation as you when a few of his children (my mother included) decided to be baptized. Before I go into that, though, let me first focus on the preparation leading up to baptism, and what is to be expected concerning the baptism itself.

Preparing for Baptism

Before someone can be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“The LDS Church” or “The Mormon Church”) there are some common events that occur:  meeting with the missionaries, praying for guidance, worshiping with the local church, and a baptismal interview.

From the time the missionaries are introduced to someone who expresses interest in the Church, the missionaries will usually meet with the person a few times per week, sharing lessons about our beliefs concerning God, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the history and organization of the church, God’s plan for us, the commandments, and what we must do to return to our Father in Heaven after this life. During each lesson the missionaries stress the importance of prayer and continually challenge the person receiving the lessons to ask our Heavenly Father in earnest, personal prayer if the things they’re being taught are true. The person receiving the lessons will be invited to attend church on Sundays where they’ll have the opportunity to meet the local church leaders and worship with us in our Sunday services. Once someone decides to be baptized into the LDS church, they continue to meet with the missionaries to help them continue to gain knowledge, grow in their faith, repent, and prepare to become a member of the Church.

Just before a person gets baptized, they have a baptismal interview. This is a one-on-one meeting with someone who has been ordained to give these interviews (for your son it will likely be a full-time missionary other than those who taught him the lessons). This isn’t like a job interview or an interrogation looking for faults. The purpose of this interview is simply to ensure that the person is really ready to be baptized – that they have prayed and received personal confirmation from the spirit that the things taught to them by the missionaries are true, that they understand and are obeying the commandments, and that they have repented of past transgressions.

What to Expect at the Baptism Service

The baptism service will begin with a prayer. A few people may have been asked beforehand to say a few words or share their musical talents by singing a religious song or playing an instrument. Then the actual baptism will take place.

The baptism itself will be very simple. Clad entirely in white to represent the cleansing through repentance and baptism, your son and the person performing the baptism (probably one of the missionaries who taught your son, or a local church leader or friend) will enter the baptismal font (a small pool of water usually around 3 feet deep). The person who baptizes your son will take him by the wrist and raise his right hand while he says the following prayer: “<Your son’s 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.” Your son will then lean back and be fully submerged in the water for a moment, then brought back out of the water. This act symbolizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the beginning of a new life, and the washing away of past sins.

There will then be a few minutes of waiting and quiet conversation while your son changes into dry clothes before he comes back and rejoins everyone. Someone (probably a local church leader and possibly even your son) may say a few final remarks, then there will most likely be a song and prayer to close the service.

The final step of baptism is to receive a blessing by the laying on of hands (those giving the blessing put their hands on the head of the person receiving it), confirming the individual a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and commanding him/her to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This “confirmation” often takes place during Sunday worship services soon after the baptism, but it’s not uncommon for it to be performed immediately after the baptism as part of the baptism service.

The Baptism Service and You

Anyone (regardless of religious affiliation) who would come to witness and support those in their decision to be baptized are heartily welcomed! This is especially true for family and close friends of the individuals being baptized. As I mentioned, My grandfather, like yourself, is a christened Catholic and he’s attended the baptisms of several of his children and grandchildren into our faith; additionally, whenever he comes to town to visit he always attends Sunday worship services with us. He is not interested at this time in being baptized himself, but he enjoys attending church with us and always feels welcome.

I sincerely hope that if you are able to attend your son’s baptism, that you do! It would give you an opportunity to support your son in this important event in his life, to witness for yourself what he’s embarking on, and to meet his church leaders and friends. If you are able to attend, I challenge you to keep an open mind and be conscious of your feelings during the service; you may be surprised at the peace you feel as your son begins this new chapter in his life.

If you have any further questions about your son’s decision, don’t hesitate to ask. If you would prefer a more direct question and answer opportunity, feel free to contact the full-time missionaries in your area; when I served as a full-time missionary I loved the opportunity to answer questions of the family and friends of those whom I taught, and I’m confident those in your area would feel the same.

Baptisms for the Dead

Q. What happens to people who die without being taught/accepting baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Heavenly Father has prepared another chance for them to hear the gospel and choose to accept or reject it.

The official Church website explains:  “Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5)  Many people, however, have died without being baptized.  Others were baptized without proper authority.  Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism.  By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors.  Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.”

Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel.  It is so important that even Jesus Christ asked to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness.  Because Heavenly Father desires for us all to return to Him, He has made it possible for the dead to have the same opportunities as the living through the temple ordinances.

Some have the misconception that this temple work forces the deceased persons into covenants against their will.  This is entirely false.  All spirits maintain their free will after death and can opt to accept or refuse the ordinance of baptism.  When a living person is baptized and receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost in behalf of a deceased person, it is only to give the deceased person the opportunity – the option of redemption. also reveals:  “Many in the spirit world embrace the gospel. However, they cannot receive priesthood ordinances for themselves because they do not have physical bodies. In holy temples, we have the privilege of receiving ordinances in their behalf. These ordinances include baptism, confirmation, Melchizedek Priesthood ordination (for men), the endowment, the marriage sealing, and the sealing of children to parents. The Lord revealed this work to the Prophet Joseph Smith, restoring a practice that had been revealed to Christians shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:29).

Part of the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to Redeem the Dead.  Because of this, we participate in genealogy/family history work to find our ancestors who were not able to hear and accept the gospel while on earth.  Many in my family are involved in this work because of our desire to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers as mentioned at the very end of the old testament.

I love going to the temple.  There is such a special feeling that accompanies me when I’m in the House of the Lord.  Doing the physical ordinances for my ancestors who have passed on is an amazing experience because I know that many of them have been waiting for hundreds of years to finally have their baptism performed.  Being a part of their spiritual progression is remarkable.  I know that God is merciful and mindful of each of us because He gives everyone a fair chance at accepting or rejecting the message of the gospel.

Greatest Gift on Earth

presentThink of the best gift you have ever received. Christmas, birthday, whatever.  It was probably thoughtful, generous, useful, exactly what you needed even if you didn’t realize that you needed it.  And that gift came from a person with limited resources, imperfect abilities to love completely and know your deepest needs.

Now think of the best gift you could ever receive–one from a loving heavenly parent with unlimited resources, perfect love, and such an intimate knowledge of who you are and what you need that it often surprises you.  What gift would God give to you on a special day?

I’ll tell you and I want you to know up front that it is honestly the most important gift I have and will ever receive in this life.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost.

pentecostThe gift of the Holy Ghost comes to you as part of your baptism.  (For more information on baptism, look here.)  It is God’s gift to you for your willingness to make a covenant to follow Him and it is the very thing that will help you receive the greatest gift He has to give: Eternal Life. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is a promise that the Holy Spirit will be  your constant companion, as you live worthily.  Let me belabor this a little bit: a member of the Godhead (and there are only three) is your constant companion, giving inspiration, guidance, protection, comfort, knowledge, reproofs (when needed), and spiritual gifts throughout the rest of your life.

Some of the ways that I have personally benefited from this gift are:

  • Protection – Even though this one happens less frequently than the others listed below, it is still important.  If a place is not safe or a person should be avoided, He will communicate that to you.  For me, it is a generally uneasy feeling, sort of nauseous.  At other times, people hear a voice, as in “stop and turn around” or “don’t talk to that person”.  The way the Holy Ghost communicates with each person is tailored to them.  Remember, God knows how to reach each of us perfectly.
  • Avoiding Spiritual Dangers – Along the same lines as physical dangers, there are very real spiritual dangers surrounding us that the Holy Ghost points out to us before we get hurt.  You could call it a Sin-Warning-Alert System.   The Spirit lets you know when you are going to do something that will drive Him away, and when you feel His absence, you know that you have done something to drive him away, and need to repent.  And the guilt doesn’t go away–you can’t just push through it and get through on the other side unscathed.  The only way is to turn around, change the behavior or thoughts, and ask for forgiveness.  Then the Spirit will return and so will the peace.   The Holy Ghost is the instrument that helps us gauge if we are in good standing with the rest of the Godhead, or if we need to repent.
  • Comfort – This happens often.  At times of tragedy, the feeling is strong and warm, like walking around being hugged all of the time.  (This is why LDS funerals are usually somewhat uplifting and peaceful.)  On my mission, I had a few opportunities, when I felt all alone in the world, to pray and find companionship and comfort.  Even with daily weaknesses and shortcomings, the Holy Ghost provides comfort and reassurance to help you get back on your feet.
  • Guidance – I cannot understate how important this is to me.  What should I major in?  What should I do for a career?  Where should I live?  Who should I marry?  When should I have children?  God gives us our freedom to make choices, but it is so nice to be able to consult with Him and receive answers and direction through the Holy Ghost.  As a member of the Godhead, they all work together and are one in purpose and direction, so though you pray to God (in the name of Christ), the Holy Ghost is the one bringing you the answers to your prayers.
  • Knowledge – As a student, this was key.  I had to show that my schooling was important to me through studying, attending class, and taking it seriously, but the Holy Ghost sure made it easier for me to retain things, write my essays and take my tests.  I know that it was the Holy Ghost because the times that I wasn’t doing everything that I should have (living all the commandments) and He couldn’t be with me, I was barely able to keep my head above water.  This isn’t just worldly knowledge though–spiritual knowledge is related to us almost exclusively through the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  If you have just been baptized and you feel like you don’t know anything about what you have just covenanted to do, don’t worry.  Just keep studying and asking and the Holy Ghost will teach you.  And it doesn’t take long to understand the gospel as long as you are sincere and dedicated.
  • Reproofs – For awhile in my young adult life, I felt like this was the only way that the Holy Ghost was speaking to me, but I am sure glad that He did.  The Holy Ghost is like a warning alarm, letting us know when we are veering off of the path back to Heavenly Father.  He either tells us to straighten up or else He has to leave us until we repent and are worthy again.  Both ways are effective at getting us to seek God again.  If, as a recipient of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, you find yourself feeling unhappy, listless, frustrated and dissatisfied when you used to be happy and satisfied, it may be that He had to leave you.  So repent, get back on the path and you can enjoy His presence again.  Remember how nice that felt?
  • Spiritual Gifts – Spiritual gifts follow the true church of Christ.  There are the public gifts like the gift of tongues or of interpretation of tongues, prophecy or healing (which all exist in this Church.  They are just special and sacred so we don’t broadcast them for everyone to see).  But there are also personal, private gifts of the spirit: Faith, visions, discernment, beholding of angels, teaching and learning wisdom, etc.  These gifts aren’t intended to convince anyone that God is there, they are rewards for believing that He is, and for blessing the lives of others (1 Corinthians 12).  And they are wonderful.

So can you see why I say that the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift I have ever or will ever receive?  Even my marriage and beautiful children aren’t going to benefit me if I can’t make it to heaven to live with them forever.  The Holy Ghost is going to help me get there.  God wants everyone to have this gift because He loves us all and wants us to return to live with Him again.  You don’t have to believe me, you can ask Him directly and the sweet answer that will come to your heart is the Holy Ghost.

Related Articles and Links: – Holy Ghost
Our Life on Earth
What Do Mormons Believe about the Atonement of Jesus Christ
What Do Mormons Believe? – Repentance
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?