Baptism or Christening
Parents bring their children to church for baptism to: thank God for his gift of life, start their child on the journey of faith, to ask for the Church’s support in the child’s life, For the child, baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from the darkness of self-centredness and towards Christ, and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.
Baptism is a ‘sacrament’, a visible sign of God’s love. In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from the darkness of evil and to make a new start with God. Read the details of Baptism below but at any stage a member of the clergy would be very happy to talk to you if you are thinking about having a Christening.
What happens during the service?
Your child’s baptism will normally take place during a Sunday service. 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 priest will make sure you know where to sit and when you need to move.
For the baptism itself, parents and godparents will be asked by the priest to gather either at the front of the church or around the font. (The font is a large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)Declarations: The priest will ask the parents and godparents to make the following declarations on behalf of the child:
Therefore I ask:
A number of important symbols will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross – the priest 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 and a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
Water – the priest 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 baptised our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.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.
Candles – Jesus is called the light of the world. A large candle may be lit in the church and you may be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child’s life. It is up to you, the child’s godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and shares this light with others.
The role of godparents
Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptised as parents. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.