|We welcome enquiries from those wishing to be baptised in any of the churches in the Parish
Please Contact our office in the first instance or use the contact form on the website
We hope you will find the following information useful when considering a baptism for you or your child
What is the difference between baptism and christening?
Baptism is simply another word for Christening. It is more commonly used in churches these days because it is the word used in the Bible for the act of becoming a Christian. The word ‘baptism’ itself means ‘dipping’ or ‘plunging’ and reminds us of the central symbolic act with water in a service of baptism.
What is baptism?
Baptism is the event by which a person, of whatever age, commits to following the Christian faith. When a baby is baptised, this commitment is made on behalf of the child by the parents and godparents. The dipping in water symbolises Jesus Christ washing new Christians free from sin and uniting them with his death and resurrection.
Is it only for babies?
In the days of the first Christians, adults came for baptism because they wanted to be part of the Christian community. Later, as Christianity spread and the vast majority of the population in Western Europe were Christians, baptism came to be associated mainly with babies as people wanted their children to belong to Christ and be part of the Church too.
In the last 50 years, the practice of having babies baptised has declined in this country and these days it is increasingly common for older children, teenagers and adults to be baptised as they come to faith for themselves. There is no particular age at which baptism is right. What matters is that those concerned believe that it is right to ask for baptism.
How do I know if it is right for me or my child?
Where the candidate is an older child or an adult, it is important that the candidate has a desire to learn about Jesus and follow his teachings and to become a member of a church.
Where a baby is to be baptised, the parents should understand the following commitments they will make in the service on behalf of the child:
- to bring a child up to be a part of the church, attending worship, public prayer etc. to bring the child up according to Christian teaching, knowing the stories of Jesus in the Bible and to follow the commandments to love God and one’s neighbour
The commitment of baptism is a serious thing and is a positive choice. In some parts of the world today, being baptised as a Christian means putting one’s life at risk. We are fortunate this is not the case at present in Britain but, even here, to be a Christian is to commit oneself to different values from the dominant ones of our society.
Is there any alternative?
If you are uncertain about making the commitment of baptism and would like your child to be able to make up his/her own mind at a later time but you want to thank God for your child and to ask his blessing on him or her, you may like to consider a thanksgiving service instead. This can be a service just for you and your family and friends and can be as much an occasion for celebration. It includes prayers for the child, a naming ceremony and a blessing. The Vicar will be pleased to discuss this with a family.
What happens at a baptism?
At a baptism in any of the churches of this parish, parents/godparents have to make the following responses to 3 questions as follows:
Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ
Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins
Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil
They are also required to declare publicly with others present their belief in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
During a baptism service, three actions take place:
- The sign of the cross is made upon the forehead of the candidate – an invisible but everlasting badge of membership of the Christian faith.
- Water, a symbol of life and cleansing, is poured over the head of the candidate three times
- A lighted candle is given to the candidate or to the parents or godparents. It is lit from the Easter candle with which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
The baptism takes place at a font. The font is often near the main door of the church to symbolise baptism as the entry into membership of the church.
When can I have a baptism?
Baptism means becoming a part of God’s family – a member of the Church – and a baptism should preferably take place within a public act of worship when members of the local church community are present. The Vicar can tell you the dates of services in which a baptism may be included. It is normally on the last Sunday of the month in St Thomas Church at 11 am. There is no fee for a baptism in this way.
A thanksgiving service can also take place within an act of worship but is equally appropriate as a private occasion. In certain circumstances the Vicar will consider conducting the baptism at a different time – usually on a Sunday around midday.
Babies cannot express their own wishes about being baptised nor can they make the promises to follow Christ that are required. Each child has the promises made on his or her behalf by parents and godparents. (Adults who are baptised can make the promises for themselves and do not need godparents.)
Godparents should be adults (16 yrs or over) who will set an example of Christian living to the child and help the parents to bring the child up in the Christian faith. With the decline in churchgoing in society generally, this spiritual aspect is all the more important. Traditionally the church has required three godparents: two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. However, it is more important that the right people are chosen rather than the number or whether male or female. In general, we discourage parents to choose more than four.
And finally …
For more information about baptism you might like to look at the ‘life events’ section on the Church of England website: http://www.churchofengland.org/weddings-baptisms-funerals/baptism-confirmation.aspx