by Fr. Troy Mashburn
from The Word, June 1997
In a healthy Orthodox parish, there is a continual flow of births, and consequently baptisms in the parish. Where the parish is genuinely taking the faith to the surrounding world, there is also a steady stream of Chrismations of individuals into the parish and the Kingdom of God. In each of these blessed sacramental events, not only are the priest and the one receiving the sacrament integrally involved. A third person is essentially entwined in the sacrament, that being the Godparent (sponsor). Many times the Godparent’s role is minimized, centering only on material aspects of the sacrament. However, he has personal responsibilities as well as representative responsibilities for the entire parish that go far beyond material considerations. It is good for us to be reminded of the role of Godparents in the life of the Orthodox Christian.
Regarding his representative role, we must never forget that the entire parish takes responsibility for those “born again” by baptism (or received by Chrismation) into its midst.
Regarding the godparent’s personal role, there are many good descriptions in print already. I have borrowed the following from one of the better ones, Fr. Stanley Harakas’ 455 Questions, wherein he discussed the history and responsibility of Godparents as follows: