An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of the Holy Ghost, sometimes called “baptism of fire” [Doctrine and Covenants 33:11]. According to Joseph Smith’s history, in May 1829, John the Baptist appeared to Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the authority to baptize [History, 1838-1856, Volume A-1]. In June 1829, a revelation stated that baptism was for only those who had reached the “years of accountability,” later defined as eight years old [D&C 18:42; 68:25-27]. Baptism was required for membership in the church. An April 1830 revelation directed that all converts who had previously been baptized into other Christian denominations should be baptized into the “new and everlasting covenant” [D&C 22:1]. During the Joseph Smith era, some members were rebaptized for remission of their sins or for healing. Some previously excommunicated members were required to be rebaptized before being readmitted to the church. Beginning in 1840, Smith directed church members to perform vicarious baptisms on behalf of those who died without being baptized.
Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.