Ordinances are worship and faith disciplines which have specifically been ordained by Jesus in his instructions to his followers. We believe the ordinances are symbolic of something that is happening in the believer as a direct act of God's Spirit. The symbolic act witnesses to an inner reality. These symbols affirm and remind us of what God has done in Christ.
Baptism by immersion is a first step for the new believer
The term baptism means to immerse. Immersion of believers is the only form of baptism that is indicated in the New Testament. Through baptism, the new believer witnesses to a new spiritual dimension in his or her life. Baptism is also a witness to the church that the new believer is a part of its fellowship and work and to family and friends that he or she is now an active participant in the Christian community (Mark 1; Matthew 28; Acts 2:38).
The Lord's Supper, often called Communion, is an affirmation of oneness in Christ
In the sacramental churches, it is often called the Eucharist ("thanksgiving"), a reference to the thanks offered over the bread and the cup (1 Corinthians 10:16). The Lord's Supper and Communion are both terms used by Paul in his writings (1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16, KJV). Church of God congregations frequently share the elements of the Lord's Supper. Many have Communion on the first Sunday of each month (including World Communion Sunday), on New Year's Eve, and on Maundy Thursday. The bread and the cup are symbolic of the grace experienced in the life of the believer.
Foot washing is an ordinance practiced by many church groups.
It is an act symbolizing the servant ministry of all Christians to each other and to the world. Usually men assemble in one room and women in another. In some congregations, young persons assemble separately so they can be instructed more fully on the meaning and practice of foot washing. Some congregations now provide opportunity for family groups to participate in the ordinance of foot washing. Persons wash each other's feet, sing hymns, and give personal testimonies of God's blessing on their lives. Participation is not considered a test of faith. Rather, it is a spiritual experience which Christians are encouraged to observe and join.
Infant dedication is not considered an ordinance, but it is consistent with the instructions of Jesus.
He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14, NIV). Parents are encouraged to present themselves with their infants for a time of dedication in public worship, the act reminiscent of the presentation of Samuel by his mother as told in the Old Testament and Jesus by his parents as told in the New Testament. It is a time for the church and the parents to acknowledge the child as a gift from God, commit themselves to rear the child in awe and respect of God, and ask God's blessings upon the body, mind, and spirit of the child.
Infant baptism is not practiced in the Church of God. Infant baptism is usually an act on the part of parents by which they believe saving grace is imparted by God to the child. Later in life, the child is asked to confirm that decision by the parents after receiving instruction in the faith.
We believe a child is innocent and already in the grace of God. Later the child, in some stage of his or her growth and training, will come to a time when he or she responds to the conviction and leadership of the Holy Spirit and will have an opportunity to accept Christ as Savior. It is at that time the child, youth, or adult will be baptized.
We believe a wedding is a worship service of the church.
A marriage should be entered into with discretion, wisdom, and a recognition that it is a marvelous gift from God to both the couple and the families involved. We believe a marriage begins best with a wedding that is a worship experience and with both parties committed to Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives and home.