When a child is born into a Christian home, it is the usual practice for parents to bring him or her to the church for a blessing. Seventh-day Adventists refer to this blessing as a ‘Baby dedication’. It is usually celebrated a few weeks to a few months after the birth of the child.
An ordained minister or elder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church will conduct the service, with family and friends present. Sometimes parents will invite spiritual guardians (instead of godparents) to support them in the care and nurture of the young one.
At the end of the service there is a presentation of a certificate to the parent(s)/guardians to commemorate the special event. At that time, the child is usually enrolled as a member of the Cradle Roll Sabbath School of the children’s department.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church practises baptism by immersion. Prior to baptism, the individual will have undertaken a series of studies to understand the Gospel more fully.
The baptismal service usually includes a sermon, a special prayer of commitment, and immersion of the individual. At the close of the service, the newly baptised person is ‘accepted into fellowship’ and then acknowledged as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The new member is presented with a Certificate of Baptism and a copy of the Fundamental Doctrines and Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Profession of Faith
It is possible to grant Seventh-day Adventist membership to those who have already been baptised in other recognised Christian faith traditions by what is called ‘Profession of faith’. In these cases, the prospective member goes through the same process of preparation as anyone seeking baptism, but is received into membership by vote, without being baptised.
The practice of communion is modelled on the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and shared ‘the bread and the cup’ with them. It is usual for each church in the United Kingdom to host a communion service once a quarter in which every Christian present is invited to participate. The communion service provides opportunity for broken relationships to be healed and for members to recommit their lives to God.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the sanctity of marriage. Prior to the wedding, pastors will provide premarital counselling over a period of months. In fact, we caution our pastors not to conduct a wedding unless a couple has had the benefit of premarital counselling.
Because we recognise the potential tensions that come with mixed-faith unions, we counsel Seventh-day Adventist pastors to decline requests to conduct marriage ceremonies between members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and non-members. It is customary, but optional, for the couple to exchange rings during the ceremony. Celebrations range from the simple to the elaborate. While the British Union Conference understands that the marriage ceremony takes different forms around the world, only is, those registered with the relevant authorities, are recognised in the British Isles. We accept the validity of cultural marriages conducted in other countries prior to members arriving in the British Isles. However, we advise such members to register their marriage in the normal manner once they are resident in the British Isles so that they do not compromise certain legal rights and privileges.
The death of a member usually brings about much support from the local and wider church community.
Pastors conduct both burial and cremation funerals and organise the services in accordance with the wishes of the family. In certain cultures, it is common for the casket of the deceased to be open for the entire service or at the close, so that family, friends and other mourners can view the body for the last time. Some prefer a time of quiet reflection at the graveside or in the crematorium when laying the deceased to rest, while others find comfort in the enthusiastic singing of hymns and in the filling in of the grave.
Death is a sad experience for the loved ones left behind to grieve their loss, but the promised resurrection helps us face the future with hope.
A longer version of our beliefs can be found on-line on the Messenger page of the British Union Conference website: http://www.adventistnews.org.uk/messenger/bam2009-15.pdf.