Baptism for babies and children takes place in a service often called a Christening. In this service parents thank God for his gift of life, make a decision to start their child on a journey of faith and godparents promise help and support. The church also promises to welcome the child and to pray for the family.
For your child, being baptized at a Christening marks the start of a lifelong journey of faith as part of the local and worldwide Christian family.
Some parents might want to celebrate the gift of a child in a different way without the commitment that baptism involves. During the Thanksgiving service parents and families give thanks for the birth or adoption of a child and everyone prays for family life. It can take place in church with the congregation, or with just family and friends gathered, or elsewhere such as home, or even in hospital.
A Thanksgiving Service is not a Baptism. There are no promises to make about the Christian faith. The child will be blessed and prayed for, and supporting friends will promise to support the parents in bringing up their baby.
To find out more about a Thanksgiving Service contact the church office.
Below you will find more information relating to the actual
Your child’s Baptism will normally take place during the main Sunday service (usually in the morning). This is so that your child can be seen to be joining the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. In turn the Church will promise to support and pray for you and your child.
The vicar will make sure you know where to sit and when you need to move. Some parts of the service will be for everyone to join in with, some will be for you and the godparents.
Part of the service will normally take place at the front of the church, but for the Baptism itself, parents and godparents, sometimes family and friends too, will usually be asked by the vicar to gather around the font. (The font is a large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)
The vicar will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child
MAKING DECISIONS AND PROMISES
When you bring your child for Baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus.
You will be asked to answer, on your child’s behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and instead to turn towards Christ.
The declarations made by you and the child’s godparents will be made in front of the church congregation; the local Christian community will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
SYMBOLS AND ACTIONS USED DURING THE SERVICE
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
•The sign of the cross – the vicar will make the sign of the cross on your child’s forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.
The vicar says:
Christ claims you for his own.
Receive the sign of his cross.
Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
The vicar may also invite you and the godparents to sign the cross on your child’s forehead after he or she has done so.
Water – the vicar will pour water on your child’s head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptized, it is as though our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.
The Vicar says:
May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church,
pour upon you the riches of his grace,
that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people
you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,
and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.
The welcome – the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that you child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them.