Kumstvo (god-parenthood) is the relationship established between a Godchild and the Godparents. This relationship is formed at Holy Baptism and lasts throughout life. One sponsor is required at Baptism but the customary practice is to have two: a Godfather or Kum and a Godmother or Kuma, together called Kumovi. The Godchild is called Kumce.
Holy Baptism is a life transforming event. The person's identity is changed forever. At Holy Baptism, the person becomes known as a "Christian". This new identity will define the person's being and will serve as a constant point of reference.
The duties of the Kumovi during the celebration of the Sacrament emphasize the importance of the God-parents being practicing Orthodox Christians. One authority puts it this way: "How can a non-Orthodox person confess the Creed of the Church which he does not belong or promise to sponsor someone into a Church of which he is not a member?"
Parents need to exercise serious thought when approaching the would be Kum and Kuma. The impact of the choice is far-reaching. In Serbian Orthodox families, Kumovi relationships often can be traced through generations.
The Kumovi assume an obligation to educate the Kumce in the Orthodox Faith. They are to lead the child in the spiritual life. Being Kum and Kuma is not limited to the brief and honorable participation in the Holy Sacrament. The Sacrament is the important beginning. Fr. Dosenovich illustrates the continuing important role of the Kumovi in the child's spiritual development by reciting the Serbian saying: "God in heaven and Kum on earth."
When an individual or married couple accept the honor which comes from being chosen as Kum and Kuma, time must be devoted to considering the spiritual well-being of the child as he or she progresses in life. The Kumovi must ask themselves what they can do to enhance the spiritual growth and participation of the child in the Orthodox way of life. The Kumovi should always remember the newly baptized child in prayer.