The arrival of a new baby is a time for celebration and thanksgiving and many families wish to mark the occasion with a Baptism, sometimes known as a ‘Christening’. This page is intended to help you find out about options to mark the occasion.
Which service is right for you?
Did you know that you have two options? You can have either a Baptism or a Thanksgiving.
It is natural for adults who have faith for themselves to seek Baptism for themselves and also for their children since those children are going to be brought up within the church and in a Christian household. However, some families find that baptism isn’t what they need.
In baptism, you make some big promises about how you are going to raise your children. You promise to pray for your children, to raise them as Christians and ensure they become part of a worshipping community (i.e. a local church) and thus regularly attend church. Some parents don’t feel ready to make those kind of promises.
For other parents, what they want to do is really to give thanks and the baptism service doesn’t quite hit the mark. They aren’t looking to do any more than simply welcome their child into their wider family and give thanks to God that this baby has arrived safely.
A Service of Thanksgiving provides that alternative and it’s a good alternative! In the Thanksgiving service, the focus is on welcoming the child into the family, giving thanks for this new baby with ending with a prayer for God’s blessing on the child. It doesn’t involve making the big promises that baptism demands.
Please speak with the Rector when you meet to work out which option is best for you.
Baptism or Thanksgiving, have a look at the services
The words used in both services can be downloaded from the Church of England website as PDF files.
Use the links for Holy Baptism and Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child to see which is most appropriate.
Who can get baptised here?
If you live within the parish boundaries, you can get baptised in one of our churches. For those who live beyond the parish boundaries, the situation is more complex.
The Church of England website notes that part of baptism is about ‘asking for the Church’s support’ and also ‘becoming a member of the local … Christian family’. Both of which are pretty much impossible to do if you are not in church as part of the community and don’t live locally.
If you live outside the parish and did want to pursue baptism in our parishes, it would only be feasible if there are very strong pastoral reasons or if you are a regular worshipper at one of our churches.
Where and when?
Please discuss this with the Rector.
The basics of baptism
Jesus himself was baptised in the River Jordan and he encouraged his followers to go and baptise others as well. Ever since, Christian people have understood that baptism is about a decision to become a disciple of Jesus and it marks the start of a journey of faith. It’s a journey which involves turning away from the darkness of self-centredness so that we can turn towards Jesus and live life his way. Baptism also means that we become members of the local and worldwide Christian family (i.e. the Church).
While most people are familiar with being baptised as a child, baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism.
Baptism is considered by the Church to be a ‘sacrament’. In other words, it is a visible sign on the outside of something that God’s love is doing on the inside. In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we need to turn away from selfishness and sin and make a new start with God.