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Systematic instruction and formation of adults for baptism, initiating them into the mysteries and life of Christian faith. This instruction is not merely informative but intended to form one's outlook on life, values, and identity as a Christian. The instruction takes place in the context of the prayers and life of the Christian community. It is based in the scriptures, creeds, and prayers of the church. The period of this instruction and formation is known as the catechumenate.

     In the early church, the catechumenate lasted for a period of three years. Adults preparing for baptism were known as catechumens. They attended services of readings, instructions, and prayers. These services concluded with the laying on of hands by the teacher, even if the teacher was a lay person. The teacher was known as a catechist. Those who proved themselves worthy by their lives and understanding were admitted as candidates for baptism several weeks before Easter.

     There is evidence for both pre- and post-baptismal instruction in the early church. The Didache includes teaching to precede baptism. Hippolytus's Apostolic Tradition indicates that an organized catechumenate was well developed in Rome by the early third century. The catechumenate declined in the fifth and sixth centuries with the spread of infant baptism. However, in recent years there has been a renewal of interest in the catechumenate. The BOS provides a form for the Preparation of Adults for Holy Baptism, along with a lengthy explanation Concerning the Catechumenate.


Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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