What is baptism?
Baptism 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.
and young children
We're delighted you're thinking of baptism for your child. Your child is precious to you and precious to God. At baptism you promise to raise your child to know God loves them, and to help them to follow Jesus as a member of the Church. Like you we want to celebrate this gift and pray that God’s love and grace will be at work both in your child’s life and yours.
Baptism is one of the special ceremonies, or sacraments, that Jesus Christ gave to his followers as a sign of belonging to God (the other is Holy Communion). It’s a visible sign of God’s love for your child.
Baptism therefore is about thanking God for the gift of life, but it is also the start of an amazing journey of faith for your child and a special day for your friends and family; they are welcomed into the family of the church. It also marks the start of a lifetime of discovery about the Christian faith and how life-changing that can be. It is a journey of surprises, challenges, and adventure. And through it all, God is always with us.
In the baptism of a child, parents and godparents make promises on behalf of the child. These are important promises, if you feel like you are unable to make this promises at this time, you may wish to consider a 'Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of Child' instead. Please see the section below for more information about this.
Choosing the right people as godparents for your child is a big decision. Here are some key things which might help you decide:
Because of the very special role godparents have in supporting your child’s faith journey, they must be baptized themselves.
If the people who you'd like to be godparents aren't baptized, they can still be involved in the christening service and in your child's life as they grow up. Ask your vicar about this who'll be pleased to advise.
Godparents will be people who’ll be in touch with your family for many years to come. They may be relatives or friends of the family.
They’ll be people who you know you can trust and who’ll be there for your child to talk about the bigger questions in life; questions about faith, hope and love.
They should feel ready to make some big promises about faith for your child in church.
Every child should have three godparents, two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex to your child.
Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.
If you’re thinking about asking someone who is under 18 to be a godparent, talk to your vicar first. There’s no minimum age for godparents, but they must be mature enough to understand the responsibilities they’re taking on; your vicar can help you decide if this is the right choice for your child and the young godparent.
The way we approach adult baptism is slightly different. One of the biggest differences is they don't have godparents, instead they have a sponsor. When an adult is baptised, they make the declarations and promises for themselves, they may even wish to share part of their story within the baptism worship.
Preparation is different too. Please see the section on preparing for baptism for more details.
The Church sees Baptism as a particularly important day in someone’s life, whatever age they are.
For adults we hold four sessions – either one to one or in a group – to explore the journey that has brought them to this point and what baptism means as a spiritual reality of forgiveness and rebirth.
For the baptism of children, we find it helpful for people to come to at least a couple of services to see what their local Church is like, then to have at least two preparation sessions, where we discuss what life, faith and church mean for you followed by a what happens in the baptism worship.
We meet together with you and the Godparents.
Parents/Godparents will be invited to two preparation meetings, and it is important that as many of them attend as possible (we appreciate not always easy if they live some distance away).
It is all quite relaxed and informal!
It may be that having considered all the commitments and promises involved in baptism, you do not feel that this is the right way forward for you and your child. If so, you might like to consider having a Service of Thanksgiving instead. This is a service in church where we celebrate the life of your child, give thanks to God for them and ask for God’s blessing upon you all. It’s not the same as a baptism, it does not involve the symbolism of water, signing with the cross or the giving of a candle. If you choose to have a Thanksgiving, you can still have a Baptism service for your child at a later date.
At a Thanksgiving Service, your child does not have godparents, the have sponsors instead.
Come to one of our Sunday services at St Laurence and speak to Revd Gail or one of the Churchwardens. We recommend that you to attend Church twice and complete a booking form.
You can find details of our worship times HERE. You will be warmly welcomed.
If you want to let us know you are coming or have any other questions.
Or Ark Details
For more information on baptism in the Church of England please see the Church of England, Christenings website.