Recently, my newish Bishop announced that henceforth, there would be one baptismal service per month and all children of record would be baptized during it. He said that this is the way the Handbook says we should do things.

I am sure that sounds very normal to many of you. Whether this was the way you were baptized, or this was the way your kids were baptized, I realize it is the way things are done in some parts of the world. The Mormon parts of the world. In my part of the world, though, we have done things a little differently. Of course, the ordinance is the same, but most of the time, families have been in charge of planning the associated service, and most often, children have been baptized at their own individual services. There are generally 5 to 8 children in any given primary class, so they just do their baptisms on or near their birthdays–often on a date dictated by the visits of far away relatives. This is, in fact, the way the children of every member of the bishopric have been baptized.

But they say that from now on, families will not plan the services. Either a member of the primary presidency or the bishopric (apparently, no one has been excited about taking this on) will plan it. I am told that, even if there is only one eligible child during the month, the baptismal date will not be changed from the set Saturday. Even if that means Grandma and Grandpa can’t be there. The point is to remove the personal and familial influence from the experience.

I know there are some good reasons for having a more institutional baptism than the kind I had envisioned for my children. If we lived someplace, for example, where the font was being filled every 3 days for a baptism, the change would certainly be efficient. But in my ward, I’ve got to say, it just seems less necessary and somewhat silly. For those unaffected. For the affected, I can see that this new practice could be problematic, and perhaps upsetting.

Yet, when a bishop simply wants to adhere to the handbook, it is awfully hard to disagree. Even when you really really want to.  I have wondered if this is something of a movement in the wider Church.  What do you see in your area?