Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’Matthew 19:14
We’re delighted that you’re thinking of having your child baptised.Your child is precious to you and precious to God. At baptism, you will promise to raise your child to know that God loves them and to help them to follow Jesus as a member of his church.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a sacrament, a visible sign of a new beginning, where we thank God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledge his love. In the Church of England, it’s common to baptise young children as well as adults. Baptism is sometimes known as christening. Jesus himself was baptised in the river Jordan and asked his followers to continue this tradition.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE SERVICE?
Your child's baptism will usually take place during the Sunday service. This is so that your child can be welcomed into the family of the church by all its members. In special circumstances, it can be arranged for the service to take place at different time from the main church service. We’ll make sure you know where to sit and what to do. Some parts of the service are for the whole congregation to join in; some parts are just for you and the Godparents. For the baptism itself, parents and Godparents are usually asked to gather around the font (a large basin on a pedestal, which contains the water for baptism). We’ll then 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’ll be asked to declare publicly, on behalf of your child, that you believe in God and will bring your child up to follow Jesus.You’ll be asked to answer, on your child's behalf, that you have decided to live according to God’s ways. We’ll meet up with you before the baptism, to talk with you about what this means, and get to know you better. These declarations are made by you and the child’s Godparents in front of the church congregation. The local Christian community will then promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
SYMBOLS AND ACTIONS
USED IN THE SERVICE
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross
We’ll 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 should not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him. We’ll say:
Christ claims you for his own.
Receive the sign of his cross.
Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
We’ll 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 in Christ.
The church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that your child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them.
Jesus is the Light of the World. You’ll be given a candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child's life. It’s up to you as the parents, the child's Godparents and the church community to help you to follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and to share this light with others.
THE ROLE OF THE GODPARENTS
Godparents make the same promises as the parents, on behalf of the child being baptised. Godparents promise to pray for and support the child and help the parents bring them up in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role. There is no upper limit to the number of godparents a child may have but most children have between two and four.
You may wish to have a service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, rather than a baptism. In this service, you thank God for the gift of your child, and the child is blessed. You do not make the same promises as in the Baptism service. If you choose to have a Thanksgiving, but at a later date decide that you would like to have your child baptised, we can arrange to do that for you as well.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Please get in touch with us if you want to discuss the possibility of arranging a baptism service. You may want to visit one of our services and speak to a member of the clergy after the service. Once you are certain that you want to proceed with a baptism service, we will try to find a date which suits both yourself and our church calendar, then we will arrange a visit to discuss the meaning of baptism and to plan the service so it can be personal and meaningful to you and your family.
Get in Touch
If you are interested in exploring baptism for yourself or your child, please fill in this form, or visit one of our churches and we would be delighted to speak to you in person.