NORMAN, Okla., (BP) — Providence Road Church in Norman, Okla., dedicated 12 babies during their Sunday morning service Jan. 19 to celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
Jay Frymire, director of operations and ministries at Providence Road, said in the past the celebration was held on Mother’s Day, but the church decided this year to highlight Sanctity of Life Sunday with the dedications instead.
“We targeted Sanctity of Life Sunday because we wanted to emphasize both life out of the womb and also in the womb,” Frymire said, “that we believe babies are formed, and are actual people at conception, and that was one tangible way we felt like we could express that.”
The dedication included 11 families, as one family dedicated two babies.
Frymire noted that as a relatively young church, Providence Road never has a shortage of new babies to bring before the congregation.
The church is intentional in calling the service a “dedication,” Frymire explained.
“We do not believe that there’s anything salvific in this experience,” Frymire said. “We don’t participate in the baptism of babies, so in calling it child dedication, we’re both asking the parents to commit to this and we’re asking our church to commit to these families and hold them accountable in raising their kids in the teachings and ways of Jesus.”
During the service the parents and the congregation participated in a responsive reading that affirmed their commitment to each other.
Matt Mosier, an elder at Providence Road, delivered the reading, which included a series of challenges, encouragements and commitments.
“We see children as critically important to God’s mission, not just a distraction to be managed or a resource to be exploited,” Mosier read. “Children, like all people, have intrinsic value because they were created by God to reflect His image.”
Mosier referenced Deuteronomy 6:5-9 in saying that the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” is a challenge, but not one to be done alone.
The power, Mosier said, comes from the Holy Spirit, empowering the Word of God within to produce fruit, but also supported by the community of believers.
The congregation affirmed that they commit to help create an environment that promotes the fruit of the Spirit; that they will help the parents teach their children the truth of how to find freedom in Jesus; and that they will provide biblical, prayerful community, holding the parents accountable for training their children.
Moving on to the challenges made directly to the parents, Mosier said, “You may be struggling with one of the many difficulties of parenting. You may lose confidence in your abilities to do all that is required. However, God intentionally and purposefully put these children in your homes.”
The challenges given to the parents were that of loving the Lord with all their heart, soul and strength; creating an environment that promotes the fruit of the Spirit; diligently teaching their children to know Scripture and find joy in Jesus; creating a stable environment for their child with a healthy marriage; acknowledging that salvation depends on God’s grace; and living in a biblical community of believers who will provide accountability for the parenting of their child.
After each statement the parents responded “we do” in affirmation of their commitment to their children and the church.
“There’s a commitment both from these individual families that it is going to be something they emphasize in the upbringing of their kids, but they’re not going to do it alone, and that our congregation — our people — are walking alongside them in community,” Frymire said. “As times get tough, they can fall back on our church and as they celebrate things, we celebrate things together.”
Kaylee Smith, member of Providence Road, said through the dedication she was making a public statement of intentionality with parenting her son and welcoming help from the church body.
“We chose to dedicate our son to express our strong desire to raise him to know and love the Lord,” Smith said. “Our commitment was made in front of, and with, our church family who will be an integral part in holding us accountable to this decision, as well as supporting our family as we raise our children to the glory of God.”
The dedication, Smith said, was a beautiful and joyous occasion.
“To us this was a time of outwardly celebrating a choice we made,” Smith said. “Rejoicing in the blessing of a child we have the privilege of raising in a godly home.”