All about Baptism in our Churches
Welcome to our page about Baptism. Baptism is an important part of the Christian faith, and if you are considering baptism for your child or yourself, we will be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the Vicar on (01206) 366930, or e-mail him by clicking here, or contact a Churchwarden. There is a lot of information on this page – it’s in the form of “Questions & Answers”, which we hope you will find helpful, but of course we’d be pleased to answer any other questions you have. We look forward to hearing from you!
What is Baptism?
Baptism is an ancient way of making a commitment to Jesus, still very popular today. It is a ceremony in which promises are publicly made to God, and which marks the formal start of a journey of faith.
What’s the right age to be baptised?
Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan – at age 30. We can be baptised at any age – many adults who find faith in God decide to be baptised as a sign of their commitment, and are joyously welcomed into the Church. In the Church of England, infant baptism is very popular, and there is no lower age-limit!
What’s the difference between Baptism and Christening?
None. they are two words for the same thing. The word “baptise” literally means “wash, or immerse” – because water is used. “Christening” means inviting Christ into one’s life, just as “strengthening” means making stronger.
How can babies make commitments and promises?
We thought you’d ask that! When you, as parents and Godparents, bring a child to be baptised, you are asked to declare publicly, and on behalf of the child, that you believe in God, and that you will bring up the child to follow Jesus. You will be asked to say, on your child’s behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is sinful, and to turn instead to Jesus Christ.
When do baptisms take place?
Baptisms take place within our Family Service, which begins at 11am and lasts around an hour. It’s a “family-friendly” service, of course, and children are always welcomed at our services. We want the service to be especially memorable for you, your family and friends, and would be pleased to welcome them.
What are Godparents?
They are very important people! Godparents promise to pray for and support the child, and to help the parents bring up the child in the Christian faith. They should be baptised themselves, and there should be at least three – two of whom are the same sex as the child, and one of the opposite sex. They are usually family members or very good friends of the family, who will take an active interest in the child’s welfare and upbringing in the years to come, until the child is able to make a personal, informed decision regarding their own faith.
Shouldn’t we wait, and let children make their own decisions?
Some do wait. However, baptism is not a matter of imposing our views on our children, but ensuring they have a good environment for making those decisions at a later time. From birth, we make choices for our children – we give them food and clothing and a good home. What better than to provide a healthy spiritual environment, in which they are nourished with God’s goodness until they are old enough to step out on their own.
How do we prepare for the Baptism service?
When you have contacted us about a baptism, our Vicar will visit you at home, note all the details (checking that the child lives in our Parish) and discuss what it means for you, as parents and Godparents. He will also be able to answer any questions you might have, and help you prepare for the day – and start thinking about a date for the baptism.
What happens in the baptism service?
Let’s start with a tip – arrive early! The services are popular, so we suggest you’re here by about 10:45am. It will be a service of Holy Communion with hymns and songs, and in the middle of the service we gather round the font (a large basin on a pedestal, with the water in it) which is at the back of the Church. Parents and Godparents are asked to make declarations and promises (we’ve printed them below), for themselves and on behalf of the child.
Then, the Vicar will make the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead. This is an invisible “membership badge”, showing that all Christians are united with Jesus Christ. He will anoint with oil, using a little special oil on the child’s forehead, which is a sign of God’s Holy Spirit being poured out in blessing. The Vicar will bless the water, in other words, ask God to make the water holy, for use in the baptism. He will ask you to “name this child”. Your child already has a family name (your surname), by being born into your family – and now receives Christian name(s), at the time of welcome into God’s family. The Vicar will then baptise the child – sprinkle water on the head. This reminds us of ancient baptisms, which were by “full immersion” – a sign of complete washing, and rising to a new life. Then comes the welcome – when the child is formally welcomed as a member of Christ’s worldwide Church. That is always followed by applause!
The service then continues with Holy Communion, when we invite all to come to the communion rail to receive either the bread and wine or a blessing.
Do we receive anything?
Yes – there’s a Baptismal Certificate – an official document to say that the child is baptised; a candle as a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the World, has entered your child’s life; and Godparents will each receive a card to remind them of the promises they have made for the child. Another tip: it’s a good idea to place this card in a diary, a little way into the future, so that when you get to it you have a little reminder (should you need it!) of your task as Godparent. Then put the reminder further on in your diary – and so on. Oh, and there may be another little present too – for your child…..
You’ll have other reminders, too – such as photographs of the day. We are happy for you to take photos, and always provide a formal photo opportunity at the end of the service.
I hate to ask, but what does it cost?
We love to tell you. Nothing! But the very act of committing one’s life to Jesus will cost us our old way of life! The good news is that, as members of the Church, we have the support of a great number of people, whose task it is to surround us with love and support.
Do continue to come to Church; everyone is welcome, as you will have already seen, and our Family Services are always friendly and informal.
As you will see from the rest of our Website, we are keen to involve the whole community in Church life, and we look forward to seeing you – you’re part of the family!
These are the promises which are made in the Baptism service, by parents and Godparents for themselves and on behalf of the child:
Parents and Godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?
With the help of God, we will.
In baptism, these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?
With the help of God, we will.
Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ.
Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil.