A christening is an important family event and in most cases baptism occurs as a baby (although we do baptise adults quite regularly too!)
Baptisms are held on the first Sunday in the month and places are booked well in advance. Anyone within the parish boundary has the right to baptism. If you live outside our area we need the agreement of your own vicar. (Unless you are on our church roll). Adults are baptised at different times.
We have various opportunities for parents and godparents to help their children grow in faith:
Baptisms are usually held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 1 p.m. at St. John Baptist. Please contact Parish Administration at the Hoggarth Room, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adults who wish to be baptised are also welcome. Please contact the Vicar.
Each Year, more than a quarter of all babies born in England are brought to their parish churches to be baptised or, in modern usage, christened. Many adults seek baptism, too. Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan and told his friends to baptise others. Thus, baptism has always been a sign of and a way of becoming a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
At first, baptism was normally for adults. It came to take place on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Day. People were prepared for baptism by being taught the basics of Christian belief. Reminded of the Good Friday story of Crucifixion, they repented of their sins and were assured that God forgave them. In baptism, they were received into the Church with all the joy of the Resurrection. Baptisms often took place in a river. The new Christians were dipped under the water, marking their death to an old way of life, and lifted up again as a sign of new birth.
The custom of baptising babies grew up as Christian parents wanted their children to belong to Christ and be part of the Church. This was particularly important when Christians were being persecuted and dying for their faith.
Today, the Church baptises both children and adults. There is no particular age at which baptism is right. What matters is for those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism.
There will be many reasons why people seek baptism for themselves or for their children. One mum called on a priest and asked how soon he “could do their five children”. Asked what the hurry was, she replied, “My mother-in-law has baked a nice cake!” Others believe that, unless their baby is baptised, the child will go to hell.
The Church believes that God loves each and every one of us, whether baptised or not.
Baptisms take place at the font in the local church. The font, often near the main door of the church to symbolise baptism as the way in to membership of the Church, is usually a basin on a pedestal.
Baptisms take place on a Sunday afternoon with the priest, parents, family and friends present. The Church is returning to an earlier tradition, where baptism is part of one of the main Sunday services, so that the child or adult can be seen to be joining the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership but due to the numbers involved this is difficult.
Babies cannot express their own wishes about being baptised, nor can they make the promises to follow Christ that are required at baptism. Each child has the promises made on his or her behalf by parents and godparents (sometimes called sponsors). Adults being baptised can make the promises for themselves and, so, do not need godparents.
Godparents are friends chosen by the parents to help bring up children in the Christian faith until they can make the promises for themselves at the service of confirmation.
The Church normally requires at least three godparents: two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex; parents can also be godparents. Godparents should be baptised and confirmed members of the Church.
Godparents have been chosen in the past for their wealth or their ability to look after the child in the event of the parents’ death. Today, the Church is re-emphasising the spiritual needs of the child and asking parents to choose godparents who can make the required promises with integrity.
Parents and godparents are reminded of their duties in these words: “The children whom you have brought for baptism depend chiefly on you for the help and encouragement they need. Are you willing to give it to them by your prayers, by your example and by your teaching?”
The central act of the service is always the same. Parents and godparents gather round the font with the baby. The priest or other minister asks them if, on behalf of the baby and of themselves, they turn to Christ, repent of their sins and renounce evil. The parents and godparents are asked if they believe in God the Father who made the world, in God the Son who redeemed mankind and in God the Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God. They reply: “I believe and trust in him.”
Holding the child, the priest pours water over its forehead. Using its Christian names, the priest declares: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Pouring the water (a reminder of those original baptisms in a river) gives the sacrament its name of baptism, from the Greek word for dipping or plunging in water. It symbolises Christ washing new Christians free from sin and uniting them with his death and resurrection.
The priest makes the sign of the Cross on the child’s forehead to show that it should ‘not be afraid to confess the faith of Christ crucified’.
Sometimes, a lighted candle is presented to the family to remind them that ‘Christ is the light of the world’ and that the newly baptised, too, should shine as a light in the world to the glory of God. Sometimes, the specially-blessed oils of Chrism are used to anoint the child.
Declaring that the child has been received into the Church, the priest and congregation then welcome it into membership.
This is suitably adjusted for adult baptisms. *A Sacrament is the visible expression of a spiritual reality, an outward action which symbolises the working of God’s grace. The other principal sacrament is Holy Communion.
A child is sometimes baptised in an emergency, usually when there seems to be some danger to its life. In these circumstances, anyone (not necessarily a committed Christian) can perform the baptism by pouring a little water on the child and, calling it by its Christian name, saying: ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ If the child recovers, the rest of the service — welcoming it as a member of the Church — takes place in a church, as soon as possible.
Parents who feel it is not appropriate for them to make the full baptismal promises on behalf of their child can take advantage of another possibility. The Church offers a service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child and a similar service for use after an adoption. These services leave open the option of baptism at a later date.
There is no “right” age at which to be baptised. Child or adult, God loves each one of us and welcomes us into the Church at any age. If you decide to be baptised as a teenager or adult, your preparation will probably lead you to both baptism and confirmation, after which you can participate fully in the Holy Communion or Eucharist, the other Gospel sacrament.