Affidavit for one's own baptism?


I hope to be starting RCIA very soon, but I’ve run into a problem. I cannot find my baptismal certificate, and I don’t have anyone who is willing to sign an affidavit testifying to my baptism. In this case, could I sign an affidavit testifying to my own baptism?

Some background: I was baptized in the Lutheran church at age 12. I fell away from the church around age 15, not long after my confirmation. I am now 30 and have finally recovered my faith after many years of unbelief. Now I wish to join the church, but my family (who also fell away not long after I did) are opposed it it. My baptismal sponsors are also opposed to it, albeit for very different reasons (they have since become evangelicals).

The Lutheran congregation where my baptism was performed has since closed. I am having difficulty locating the pastor, who has a very common name. I assume he’s at another congregation now. The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) does not keep baptismal records–that is up to the individual congregations.

I cannot recall the exact date of the baptism, only the season (I’m not even sure of the month) and the year. I otherwise remember the baptism very well. It was also my own idea to be baptized. Because of this, I’m wondering if it would be OK to sign my own affidavit without any witnesses. I understand this is only done for adult baptisms in lieu of a baptismal certificate.

I know the church also does conditional baptisms if no proof for a baptism can be find. This for me seems unacceptable though as I clearly remember my own baptism, and I was baptized of my own accord, having had reached the age of reason. I could not in good conscience undergo a conditional baptism, as there is no doubt in my mind that the baptism took place.

Can anyone help? I’m feeling very discouraged about this.



As you note, one can testify to his own baptism if it took place when he was “an adult.” From canon law: “Can. 876 To prove the conferral of baptism, if prejudicial to no one, the declaration of one witness beyond all exception is sufficient or the oath of the one baptized if the person received baptism as an adult.”

The other canon, which should ease your concern, is the following: “Can. 852 §1. The prescripts of the canons on adult baptism are to be applied to all those who, no longer infants, have attained the use of reason.” In other words, you received baptism as “an adult” so you can testify on your own behalf.

Would you happen to have any pictures of the event, or be able to surreptitiously procure one? That would help resolve any doubt anyone might have, even though your own word should be sufficient.



Some years back, when I was running the RCIA for our parish, we had a similar problem with a Vietnamese lady. As I recall, her affidavit sufficed, though she did have a photo of the event.


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