We as people mark important life events with ceremonies: birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations. In God’s view the worst tragedy is separation, so His most joyous ceremonies are the two that celebrate Jesus reconnecting us to him: baptism and communion.

Through his life, death, and return to life, Jesus makes available to us a life-giving forever kind of connection to God. Baptism is a way of saying yes to this connection which, according to Paul, is nothing but awesome:

"All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

In baptism we are deeply and profoundly united to Jesus and, through him, to God. We hitch our wagon to his train, trust our future well-being to him, and commit ourselves to his approach to life. In return God rejoices, and sends his real presence to bless us and fill us.

Who do we welcome into baptism?
The Bible is full of baptism stories that demonstrate God's radical welcome and inclusion of all people. Jesus too insisted that he be baptized as he entered into his life's mission. So this is our practice at Sanctuary—baptism is one very meaningful way that people may align their lives with Jesus and Jesus' mission. It is typically performed as a launching event on the front end of a life of faith.

How do we do baptism?
The central symbol of baptism is going underwater and emerging out as a way to connect with Jesus’s dying and his coming back to life. So we practice full immersion, typically performing baptisms at a Coralville Lake beach. Family, friends, and the church community come to the event and gather around. Each person shares briefly why he or she is being baptized. Then the person goes into the water, a pastor declares a blessing, a couple of family members or friends help the person go under, bring them out, everyone cheers, some folks pray, God blesses, and when all have been baptized, we celebrate together with lots of good food and a party.

What about children who want to get baptized?
We don’t have a firm rule about age for baptism, so parents can use their discretion. If your child has begun to ask you about it, perhaps this is the time. You may want to take the initiative to ask your child or to share about your own baptism. Ideally, baptism is a one-time event in a person’s life that will be a source of gratitude, encouragement, and joy.

What about infants?
For parents wanting to commit their newborn babies to God, we offer a child dedication ceremony (see below).

In addition to baptism, we offer an alternative called Rededication. In Rededication, a person can recognize and honor the choice that their parents made on their behalf while also declaring that they now fully embrace that choice. Rededication may be particularly meaningful for a person who left faith for a long time and decided to reconnect with God. In rededication, instead of being immersed in water, a person is anointed with oil as a sign of God’s blessing and the person’s recommitment. If you were baptized as an infant or young child, we're happy to have a conversation with you about baptism and talk about what makes sense for you.

When and Questions
We perform baptisms and rededications as the need arises, and we provide a brief introductory class for interested people. So if you want more information or have questions, please e-mail or let one of the other pastoral staff know.
Child Dedication

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young.

(Isaiah 40)

God’s pretty nice. He delights in children and draws them close. And he recognizes that parents, perhaps a bit befuddled from tending their lambs, need gentle leading themselves.

Both of these realities are in our Child Dedication ceremony ☺. Parents receive a commitment of support from the community and from God to bless them in raising their children. Parents also embrace their central task of making their children ready to draw close to God.

Who, What, and When
Our Child Dedication ceremony is typically for parents to dedicate their newborns and infants (it's what we do instead of infant baptism), though older children are certainly welcome. We schedule dedications whenever the need arises as a central event in a Sunday morning service.

Amy Kraber, our Kids’ Minister Director, leads the ceremony. Parents typically share why they are choosing to dedicate themselves and their children, and then Amy leads the parents and the congregation through some simple but meaningful statements of commitment. Pastors, friends, and family then gather around the children to pray, everyone cheers because it's super fun, and we have desert and drinks in the foyer afterwards.

It’s a moving service every time! So e-mail Amy ( if you have questions or are interested in being part of our next dedication. Due to the nature of the commmitments and the whole community's involvement, we ask that anyone who participates have been actively involved at Sanctuary for at least three months.


The second sacrament that Jesus invites us into after baptism is a meal with friends. At dinner with his disciples the night he was to be arrested, Jesus said to those gathered round the table, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Then he took simple food items and gave them new meaning: “This bread is my body broken for you . . . this wine is my blood shed for you . . . Whenever you eat and drink them, remember me.”

Jesus was first calling to mind the Jewish festival of Passover that celebrated the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Tonight I carry that forward, he was saying, by launching a much grander liberation from all that ensnares and destroys into life, light, and goodness.

Just as important as the meaning was the mechanism. A meal is a central element of every day social and communal life, and food is something we take into ourselves. Thus the message of Jesus is, I desire to connect deeply with you on a regular basis, and through that connection to make available to you freedom and goodness. Is it any wonder then that we celebrate communion together as a central part of every Sunday service?

Different Traditions: Who May Partake?
With only a few exceptions, Christians of all denominations and backgrounds have affirmed the importance of regularly sharing the meal. Some have called it “the Lord’s Supper,” others “the Lord’s table,” others “the breaking of bread,” with the two most common names being the Eucharist and Communion. There are also varied thoughts about how the connection with Jesus through communion actually occurs, whether a person ought to have been baptised before taking communion, and lots of other wonderings.

Our stance is welcoming. We see the tremendous effort that Jesus invested to make this kind of connection with him possible, and so we are loathe to turn anyone away. And we also receive the connection to each other that comes with communion. As we come to the bread and wine, we are united by our equally great need for the help that Jesus offers. The meal represents and produces togetherness both with Jesus and with each other.

So if you wish to receive this connection--if you wish to be fed by Jesus--please join in our communion on Sunday morning.

The Church Calendar

A light wind on ocean water produces about six waves per minute. The earth spins on its axis once every 24 hours. The moon cycles through its tidal effects once every 25 hours. From the Icelandic singer Bjork, “There's something about the rhythm of walking, how, after about an hour and a half, the mind and body can't help getting in sync.” And from the interweaver of door and more and Lenore and Nevermore!, “I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.”

Breakfast, lunch, dinner; spring, summer, fall, winter; the rock-a-bye motions of a pregnant mother. We live within rhythms upon rhythms, our anticipations and activities and our very body chemistries tuned to the comings and goings and risings and fallings of innumerable periodicities. Most of these we carry within our inchoate beings, ebbs and flows of our physical and social world that we have internalized without volition.

But some rhythms we choose—jazz, poetry, ping pong— imposing a new and hopefully life-giving cadence on the pre-existing elemental rhythms of life. Central for us at Sanctuary in this endeavor is to inhabit a rhythm of the church historical that embeds the walk of Jesus upon the earth within a calendar year.

The Liturgical Year Calendar of the church is marked by special seasons—most notably Advent leading into Christmas and Lent leading into Easter—that are separated by long stretches of “ordinary” time. The special seasons have their own spirits: the expectancy and new life of advent, the emptying and desolation of lent, that culminate in holy days celebrating birth, death, and resurrection. And the ordinary days in between, far from empty, invite us into an experience of quiet spirituality one day after another after another after another.

Here, we mark the special seasons by celebrating their specific days and by uniting their respective Sundays into season-appropriate themes with song, written word, and messages. We imbue the ordinary days with a rhythm of God through an array of daily and weekly meditation, prayer, and worship practices (see elsewhere on this page). If you come from a high liturgical tradition, our practice may seem to you a bit low. If you come from no liturgical tradition, ours may seem daunting. But it’s all invitational, offered for our benefit and blessing, impressing into us to a divine rhythm that steadies us through the vicissitudes of earthly life. We visit again and again the mysteries of Jesus, experiencing the resonance of the whole of his life with ours.