Purpose: This course covers the development of Christian Initiation from its Jewish roots to the present day.  Through lectures and assigned readings in primary sources the student will become familiar with the historical development of baptism and its various theologies through the ages. Particular attention will be paid to the renewal of baptismal practice in the churches today.  By the end of the course students should have a solid background with which to engage the contemporary reforms of the initiation rites of their own churches as well as the place and theology of the baptism in ecumenical dialogue.

Goals: The aim of this course is to provide a general background from which questions of the contemporary liturgical life of the church can be engaged. Central to any intelligent liturgical reform is an appreciation of the tradition as evolutionary. While much of this course is historical, the goal is not the mastery of historical detail for its own sake, but the application of informed critical intelligence to the pastoral needs of the contemporary church assembled in worship.

Requirements:  Students wishing to receive a grade for the course will be expected to attend class regularly, prepare the assigned readings before class and be prepared to participate in the discussion on the texts, and complete the assigned projects. 

There will be three written projects in the course of the term.  The first will be a short, one-page, reflection paper. The second will involve writing a liturgical text and the final, longer, project will involve integrating the work of the course by applying it to contemporary situations faced in the life of the churches today.

Liturgical Texts: During the course, students will need to use the liturgical texts of their own tradition.  Would you please obtain the contemporary texts used in your tradition and, if at all possible, your tradition’s historic texts. 

Consultations:  Consultations are most easily arranged on Wednesdays.  If that is not possible, other times can be arranged.