Reception of Adults by Baptism or Chrismation
Although infant baptism has been common within the Church since its earliest days, the reception of adult converts has always been regarded as a normative practice. Adults who wish to convert to the Orthodox Church undergo a process of preparation and religious instruction, and are then received either through Baptism and Chrismation or by Chrismation alone, depending on their circumstances.
Preparation for Baptism or Chrismation
The first step in preparation for baptism is enrollment in the order of the catechumens. From the earliest days of the Church, a catechumen was a person who was undergoing religious instruction and spiritual formation in preparation to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Classes for inquirers and catechumens are held beginning in September of each year, and continuing through Holy Pascha (Easter). In keeping with the practice of the early Church, we receive converts on Holy Saturday whenever possible. As a general rule, it is expected that those who wish to be received into the Orthodox Church attend a full cycle of classes from September through Pascha, attend Divine Liturgy regularly, and meet individually with one of the priests before being baptized or chrismated. For more information about enrolling in catechism classes, contact the Cathedral Catechist, Fr. Deacon David or the Church Secretary, who can leave a message for him.
Will I be Baptized or Chrismated?
It is the practice of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and the Metropolis of San Francisco that those who have been baptized in water with a Trinitarian formula (i.e., "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit") within the context of a Church that affirms the Holy Trinity are received into the Orthodox Church through the Sacramant of Chrismation or anointing with Holy Chrism. Those who have never been baptized, or who were baptized in a church that does not affirm the Trinity or use a Trinitarian formula, are received through Baptism and Chrismation.
Selecting a Sponsor
In preparation for Baptism or Chrismation, you will be asked to select a sponsor. The sponsor's role is to serve as a spiritual mentor and guide, assisting you in the process of integrating fully into the life of the Church. Your sponsor must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing, and should be a person you feel will be able to assist and support you in your ongoing spiritual journey.
Choosing a Baptismal Name
It is the ordinary practice of the Greek Orthodox Church for a person who is baptized or chrismated as an adult to take the name of a Saint of the Church. Your baptismal name represents your new identity in Christ, and is used when receiving Holy Communion. A searchable database of saints' names that may be used as baptismal names may be found here: http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saintfeast_search.