Baptism (Christening) is how we become Christian and we are welcomed into the family of God.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a Sacrament of the Church – through baptism we become members of the Church, the body of Christ here on earth. The Spirit of God comes to live in the heart of the newly baptized and we can never be separated from God again.
Who can be baptized?
Anyone, so long as you have not previously been baptized! Baptism is a once-and-for-always event.
These days, most baptisms take place within the first couple of years of a child’s life, though we do baptize a lot of older children and an increasing number of adults who were not baptized as children. There is no right or wrong age to be baptized.
Older children and adults are baptized and then immediately admitted to Holy Communion (able to receive the blessed Bread and Wine at Mass) and are expected to go on to be confirmed (become members of the Church of England) shortly after their baptism.
Our Vicar will want to meet with you and explain our worship and to talk about the meaning of baptism and answer any questions you might have about how you can help your child grow and understand the Christian faith. If you are an adult wanting to be baptized he/she will arrange some sessions with you to explore your understanding of the Christian faith and to share with you what it might mean for you to be a Christian in the world today.
What about Godparents?
Every child has Godparents whose role is to support them as they grow in the Christian faith and to pray for them and their family. It is a requirement, and traditional, to have a minimum of three (two of the same gender and one of the opposite sex to your child) though you can choose as many as you like. Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.
All Godparents must themselves be Christian – which means that they must be baptized, and you should think carefully about who you choose, bearing in mind their important role in providing a role model to the child in the Christian faith.
You may well have other friends who are not Christian whom you would like to be a part of your child’s life. They cannot be formal Godparents, but they can still attend the baptism and be supporters as you raise your child and get involved in all the usual ways.
It is not usual for adults who are baptized to have Godparents since they are adults and can make the promises of the Baptismal service for themselves, but some people like to have a sponsor, a close friend, who will support and pray for them as they grow in faith.
What happens in the service?
Baptisms take place as part of the normal Sunday morning service. The family and Godparents declare their own faith in God and their belief in Jesus Christ as the One in whom we see God face to face. The congregation welcome the newly baptized and promise to pray for and support the whole family.
The priest blesses water – and the baptism is made ‘In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit’. The priest will make the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the person being baptized as a sign that they now belong to Christ forever. The newly baptized receive a candle, which is symbolic of the light of Jesus Christ, in whom there is no darkness.
If you would like to know more about baptism for yourself or for your child, please click here.