Baptismal Font Q&A

The Liturgical Arts Committee is grateful for the generous gifts given towards the new bronze baptismal font. Your deep generosity shows the bountiful abundance of our thriving congregation. Our conversations, several questions have come up which we’d like to address here.

Why do we need a new baptismal font?

Like Episcopal congregations all across our diocese and the country, Good Samaritan has historically placed a high value on liturgical arts. The reredos, stations of the cross, and hand-painted banners were created by members of our congregation. Thousands of hours of time and talent were spent adding these elements to our scared worship space. It follows that we put the same care and value into choosing a new baptismal font for our church.
 
Holy Baptism is the full initiation of a person into the body of Christ. It is an entry point to a new relationship with God, a new role within the community of the church, and participation in the principle act of Christian worship: Holy Eucharist. As people enter the nave, the font is the sacred object that expresses who we are and what we are about: an invitation to experience the abundant living waters of Jesus Christ. The font will say to all who enter our sacred space: We take what we do here seriously, and we are here to serve our community for generations to come. The font draws us toward the altar and the ritual completion of our journey–hands outstretched receiving the body of Christ. The path from the baptismal font to the altar is a symbol of our Christian pilgrimage toward God.
 
It is time to complete our space and path from Baptism to Eucharist. We are almost there.

What goes into creating a new baptismal font?

The committee spent nine months researching and creating a liturgical vision for our worship space which would draw the worshiper’s attention to the two great sacramental acts of the Church: Baptism and Holy Eucharist. Many hours were spent by committee members in conversation and discussion, visiting artists’ studios and looking at metal samples.
 
Upon visiting Classic Foundry, whom we chose to create our baptismal font, we were in awe of the care and reverence that each artist showed in their work. The manager of Classic Foundry, Ion Onutan, visited Good Samaritan, which led him to design this beautiful bronze baptismal font which compliments and strengthens our existing altar and sanctuary. We feel his design encompasses our vision and our needs to permanently and formally complete our sacred sanctuary space.

Why not a prefabricated baptismal font?

The Liturgical Arts Committee, Fr. Steve, and the Vestry chose not to go with a prefabricated baptismal font due to its short-term life. Prefabricated baptismal font materials and design do not match up the high quality of Classic Foundry’s craftsmanship, and the designs out in the marketplace do not match the aesthetics of our nave. The materials and construction are not strong nor do they represent permanence. They may cost less, but the money saved would lead us back to our current font problem of having a temporary fixture that has broken numerous times over the years.
 
A custom designed font meets all of our needs. The strong bronze bowl has a hidden drain for easy cleaning. The hidden retractable wheels in the cherry wood base allow for mobility. The cherry wood matches the wood of all the altar furnishings. The durability of the bronze will allow generation after generation to experience baptisms, and all who enter will be welcomed into our sacred space with the sense of God’s permanence, beauty, and mystery.
 
We have faith that Classic Foundry’s team of highly skilled, experienced sculptors, artists, and engineers will bring our vision to life. Good Samaritans will be invited for a tour of the foundry to experience first-hand the creation process.

Why does the proposed baptismal font cost $20,000?

The cost of the new font includes the design, the casting, the construction of the base, and the installation. Bronze was chosen because it is a natural element and one of the earliest metals known to man. It represents strength, durability, and longevity, just like our congregation.
 
The current font was never meant to be permanent. The new font, made of bronze and wood matching our altar furniture, will serve our community of faith for many years to come.

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Off the Rails?

A couple of weeks ago Fr. Brian mentioned in his sermon that over the course of the summer we were going off the rails of the Lectionary track for a few weeks. The rubrics (instructions) in the Book of Common Prayer allow for this, and although I rarely do it, I chose to focus our attention over the summer on the Fruit of the Spirit. I did this for two reasons.
 
First, since the beginning of 2019 we’ve been on a Journey with Jesus, walking with him from his Baptism to the Resurrection. Then, walking with the early Christians on their journey from Easter and the promise of the Holy Spirit to Pentecost. Because the Holy Spirit fills us with the Spirit of Jesus, what does it actually mean in very practical terms to be a follower of Jesus filled with his Spirit? What difference does it make in our lives? How do we live and grow deeper in that reality?
 
The second reason has to do with our national conversation and, in particular, the co-opting of the Christian faith for political purposes. When one claims to be a follower of Christ, what does that actually mean? Does it mean simply that Jesus saves us from our sins so we can go to heaven when we die, but we can do pretty much whatever we please in the meantime? Does it mean that we can recite the Creed and with the same mouth vilify people who are different or disagree?
 
This is why I believe we as Episcopalians have a clear message to share with our friends and neighbors. To be a Christian is to pattern our lives after Jesus of Nazareth–to talk about and treat others with the respect we ourselves would expect were we the subject. I believe St. Paul wrote his description of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians with Jesus as his example. If we are followers of Christ and his Spirit lives in us, then we take on the characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, and so on. To be a Christian—a Christ follower—means that we are seeking, with God’s and each other’s help, to form our character after the character of Jesus.
 
Now, I want to be quick to say that none of us perfectly manifests all of the Fruit of the Spirit. We are on a Journey, as our mission statement suggests. Sometimes we are very patient, and then we blow our cool in traffic! We seek to be more loving, then we listen to the news or something happens that makes it hard for us to respond with love and grace. So, we take two steps forward, and when we take one or two steps back, we lean into God’s mercy and ask forgiveness from those we’ve offended. Then, we continue to move forward, asking for God’s help to open our lives to grace, so that we actually reflect the character of Christ more and more. This is not an option for Christians. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and, yes, to love our enemies. Jesus was clear that how we treat the poor, the sick, the stranger, and the marginalized is how we treat our Lord himself.
 
The good news is that God, by the Spirit, will help us bear all the Fruit of the Spirit. We have God’s help, and the help of fellow Christians. That’s why worshiping and learning together as a Christian community is not just important, it’s absolutely critical if we want to live a Jesus kind of life. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to live a life overflowing with joy, love, peace, patience, and generosity? And the really great news is that this kind of life is possible.
 
So, I hope you’ll be in church as often as you can this summer as we “go off the rails” of what we normally would do in preaching to drill down on what life in the Spirit is all about. God knows I need to hear it, and so does our hurting, broken world.
 
On the Journey,
Fr. Steve+

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