Baptism or Christening marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.
St John Baptist Parish, Broughton welcomes, supports and encourages family life within the parish. Part of this is to welcome people of all ages into the life of faith and into the family of the Church through Baptism. We believe that Baptism is an essential step an individual’s faith journey and we will do all we can within the parish to support and make this journey possible, fruitful, life-giving and lasting.
Anyone living within the ecclesiastical parish or for whom this parish is their regular place of worship, has the right to baptism at the parish church. For those who live outside of the parish, please read the Parish Baptism Policy for more information.
If you are considering baptism for your child please speak to one of the clergy at Sunday worship, and contact the Parish Administrator at the Parish Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be sent the Baptism Information Pack, that includes the application form, details about the Baptism Preparation Session for parents and godparents, and when baptisms are celebrated.
Adults who are considering baptism should contact the Vicar: email@example.com
Be assured of the prayers and support of the parish as you consider the next steps in the journey of faith for your child and yourself.
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.