What is baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament; that is an outward visible sign of God’s promise of love towards us. In baptism you, as parents, are giving thanks to God for your precious child and you are accepting the responsibility God has placed upon you to nurture your child in the Christian way of life. Within the service you will make promises, together with your chosen Godparents, to care for your child and to help them to know God. Your child will be baptised (christened) symbolising new birth, prayed for, welcomed into the church family and will receive a lighted candle representing the gift of God’s Spirit.
Do I have to have my child baptised?
No. Baptism is your choice. Some prefer to let their children choose for themselves when they are older. In this case they may do nothing or opt for a service of thanksgiving and dedication. Other feel it is important to baptise their child as soon as possible and to affirm their chosen godparents in supporting them in caring for their child. There is no age restriction on baptism. You can be baptised at one day old or 100 years old!
What about Godparents?
Godparents are usually chosen because they are family members or close friends. Godparents are for life, so it is good to choose those who will be in regular contact and will be able to support your child throughout their lives. Often three godparents are chosen (usually 2 men and 1 woman for a boy; 2 women and 1 man for a girl), but there can be four or more, especially where godparents are couples. Godparents have usually been christened, but it is not essential that they are confirmed.
What happens in the baptism service?
Baptisms normally occur after the Sunday morning service but can be during the service itself. In both cases we aim to only baptise children from one family at any one service to maintain a sense of intimacy and so we can focus on each individual child. If the baptism occurs within the church service it will usually be a church family service, which will place some restriction on which Sundays are available. The same format for the baptism is used if the baptism is held outside the main service, and usually there are no hymns, and there are more available Sundays to arrange the baptism. In either case, the service is informal and very accessible to those unfamiliar with church. Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in, some will be for you and the godparents. You will be able to meet with the vicar and talk through the service beforehand so that you are comfortable with the whole celebration.
What if we are not regular churchgoers?
Many find that the birth of their child is a deeply spiritual experience and they want to begin again with God. That’s absolutely fine. Indeed, its ideal, because many parents find it enriching to begin a journey of faith together with their new born child. The declarations you will make indicate that you intend to try your best to raise your child in the Christian faith. You and your godparents will make these declarations together and the whole church family pledges to support you in any way we can.
Do I have to live in the parish?
It is not essential to live in the parish where your child is to be baptised, but if not, there ought to be some special church connection. It is polite to contact your own parish minister to inform them of your decision prior to making arrangements. Please do get in contact if you would like further details.
How much does it cost?
There is no fee for baptisms or services of thanksgiving and dedication. However, some choose to give an offering. That’s entirely up to you.