by the Rev. Todd McDowell

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-content/uploads/2012/06/Baptismal-Font_opt.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”200″ />On behalf of the vestry and people of Grace Church, I am excited to share with you our plans for a new baptismal font. The vestry has accepted a generous monetary gift from Don Radeackar for the acquisition of a new baptismal font. In addition to the font itself, this gift covers the cost of architectural, structural, functional and related finishing work around the font.

Why a new font?

Over the past 50 years, the church has been re-examining our theology around baptism and rediscovering much of the early church’s practice. Holy Baptism is one of the two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church; the other is Holy Eucharist. Our Book of Common Prayer (1979) states, “Holy Baptism is a full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble…” (BCP, p. 298). Through our baptism we are fully initiated into Christ’s Body the Church.

Creating a focal point

This fuller understanding of baptism has led to changes in the placement and size of the baptismal font in many churches. Water is the outward and visible sign of Baptism, and it should be encountered in a prominent place within the church. As Richard Vosko writes in God’s House is our House, “The first liturgical focal point encountered in a church should be the baptismal font. With its abundant and moving water, it is a crossing where the Christian embraces and is embraced by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The living water is a reminder of the death we died and the life we live, a constant presence to the Church as we gather and disperse.”

Our new font will be a “spring of living water,” placed at the entrance of our nave as a constant reminder, each time we enter church, of our own Baptism — our initiation into Christ’s Body the Church. And when we leave our worship together, it will be a reminder of our Baptismal Covenant as we go forth into the world proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ! For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, he will guide them to springs of living water… (Revelation 7:17).

The new font is hand-sculpted from a solid piece of black granite. It stands 39 inches tall and has a deep and wide bowl from which moving water will overflow; reminding us of God’s overflowing abundant grace! The water that i will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. (John 4:14).

Space for the new and the old

Stauder Architecture of Kirkwood has been hired to design and execute this vision of our new font. This firm is in its fourth generation and specializes in church and liturgical architecture in St. Louis and the region, having designed well over 100 religious facilities.

We have created a wonderful space for our old font to be placed in our chapel, under the icon of Christ which hangs on the opposite wall from the historic altar. The font’s proportions will fit well within Bethlehem Chapel; and our two historic liturgical pieces will be together again, altar and font.

The new font will be placed in the middle of the last bay of the nave. The church has seven bays — the area between the roof beams with a small window on each side. This last bay will become the baptistery. The last four pews on each side of the church will be removed in order to provide for generous gathering space around the font, as well as space for other sacramental needs such as unction (anointing and prayers for healing) and reconciliation. This additional space will also give us more room for our handbell choirs and additional wheelchair seating.

We will put plans and drawings of the new font in the narthex as they become available. In the meantime if you would like additional information about our font, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Our plans for the new font and baptistery space should be completed by summer’s end.

 

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