Baptisms

Baptism in the Parish of East Preston with Kingston

You’ve probably ended up here because you’re thinking about getting your child christened or baptised (same thing: different words) in the parish church of St Mary.  Congratulations on this big step!  You may just be looking; you may have loads of questions.  Although this doesn’t cover everything these are some frequently asked questions (if you want to know more, please get in touch with Fr Andrew).  So, here we go…

We at your parish church of St Mary’s are delighted to hear about the birth of your child - congratulations!   We hope that all is well.

The first thing to say is that God’s love is for all people - God does not love us any more or less whether we are baptised or not.  God will certainly not refuse to love or reject a child whose parents did not have him or her christened.

Baptism is what’s called an “initiation ceremony” - in other words it’s about joining the Church.  That’s why in the service we say “In baptism this child begins his/her journey in Faith.  You speak for him/her today.  Will you care for him/her and help him/her to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s church?”  

The parents and Godparents also make six promises on behalf of the child to bring the child up in the Christian faith - and that includes things like teaching them to pray, setting a Christian example, becoming faithful in public worship and private prayer.  These are the public promises parents and godparents make:

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?

I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?

I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?

I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?

I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?

I come to Christ.

These are some big promises!  Some parents feel in all honesty that they cannot make such a total commitment for a variety of reasons - these solemn and serious promises make demands on the whole family.  It is vital to say that God will continue to love both parents and child, whether or not they are baptised.

Baptism assumes regular church attendance afterwards - in order to help you keep the promise that your child will (to quote the service of Baptism):  "learn to know God in public worship and private prayer, follow Jesus Christ in the life of faith, serve their neighbour after the example of Christ, and in due course come to confirmation."

So I always say to families before you jump in with both feet and join St Mary’s, why don't you come along for a few Sundays first and see whether this is the church you'd like to join...  If the whole thing scares you to death then I can happily point you in the direction of other churches; if you like what you see then yes, let's talk about dates and fix something up. But it's only fair of me to point out the expectations on you if you bring your child for baptism at St Mary’s.  

Baptism Form

If on the other hand you say you'd still like some kind of church service - but without the commitment - then maybe we can talk about a Service Of Thanksgiving.  It's NOT a baptism - so your son or daughter wouldn't be "christened"; there would be no Godparents; there would be no promises such as the ones I've mentioned above - and this IS about saying thank you to God for the safe arrival of a new life.  It would also mean that your child could be baptised at another stage in his or her life (perhaps if your child chooses to when they are older).

To find out a bit more about the Service of Thanksgiving, see HERE.

* * *

Oh help - I’ve been asked to be a godparent!  What does that involve?

When a child who is too young to speak for themselves is christened or baptised the parents and godparents make promises on behalf of the child.  Those promises are to bring the child up in the Christian faith - as the service says “to learn to know God in public worship and private prayer, follow Jesus Christ in the life of faith, serve  their neighbour after the example of Christ, and in due course come to confirmation”.

So your role as a godparent (which technically ends when the child is Confirmed) is to pray for your godchild, set them a good example and support their spiritual development

…and actually, that’s about it!  

Godparents MUST have been baptised (or christened) themselves, and preferably Confirmed too - but there is some wiggle room with Confirmation.  Baptism is what marks us out as Christians and signifies the start of our Christian journey - so it’s assumed that if you have been baptised yourself you are somewhere on that journey through life trying to make sense of things in the light of the Christian faith - however brightly (or not!) that faith burns within you.  Sometimes we find that being asked to be a godparent makes us re-visit a faith we had as a younger person, or stop and assess our own beliefs and practices - which is no bad thing: making a promise is a serious thing.

If you are interested in exploring the faith further, or getting more involved why not speak to one of the clergy at this church or the local church where you live.

There is no legal responsibility, and becoming a godparent does not make you a Guardian of your godchild.

So what might being a godparent involve?

Remembering birthdays and Christmases kind of goes with the territory.  

Remembering the day of the child’s baptism is another important way of marking your role as godparent.

Being a kind of mentor - or “friend outside the immediate family” can become a key role as the child grows up, and most teenagers at some stage think their parents are hopeless and need an outside perspective as they work out who they are and where they are going in life.  Often this role is fulfilled by, or contributed to by a godparent.

If you live close enough - and if the parents are savvy enough - you might even be asked to take the child to church from time to time as part of your role!

What happens at the service?

At the service itself the baptism usually happens after the sermon.  Parents, godparents and the child come out to the front of church (with their service sheets) and the priest asks the parents and godparents to answer on behalf of the child.  These are the six questions you will be asked (your answers are in bold):

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?

I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?

I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?

I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?

I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?

I come to Christ.

After this the child has the sign of the cross made on his or her forehead in special holy oil, and the party moves to the font for the actually baptism.  Your separate speaking role is now over!   The rest of the responses we will all say as a congregation.

Your role as godparent has just begun!

A prayer for your Godchild

Sometimes we find it difficult to form words to frame our prayers - other times it comes easy.  Here is a prayer you could use:

Almighty God, thank you for N 

and for the way my life touches theirs.

Guide, direct and bless N as s/he grows.

May s/he grow in friendship with God.

Keep him/her safe this day

and bless those who care for him/her (especially…)

May N grow in the likeness of Christ,

in whose name I pray.

Amen