Life Events: Baptism

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. A new life is well worth celebrating and thanking God for and many families, even if they are not regular worshippers, recognise that there is something very special and important about bringing their babies and children to church for this.

GETTING THE BABY "DONE" – IS BAPTISM OR THANKSGIVING RIGHT FOR YOU?

Although we rejoice when an adult or older child chooses to be Christened here at St Martin's most families bring small children and babies to be Christened. We are always delighted when parents want their child to be welcomed into the community of the church and promise to bring the child up in the faith of Christ, pray for and with the child and bring him or her to family worship in order to give the child an informed understanding of what faith is about. The old word "Christening" means "en-Christing" or clothing a child in Christ! It has nothing to do with giving the child a name!

Baptism (as the church calls getting Christened,) is a big deal for Christians and means that the child is cleansed of sin and born again in the spirit as a child of God and a member of Christ's church. Ordinary water and oil are transformed by prayer and simple ritual into the means of spiritual salvation for your child both in his or her earthly life and after death. Those are big supernatural concepts and often well outside the experience of people who have not themselves had any grounding in the Christian faith. It can all sound a bit Harry Potter! For that reason anyone bringing a baby to be baptised will be invited to attend a meeting with the vicar to ensure that you understand what is actually going to happen and give you a chance to ask questions about the promises you will be making on behalf of your little one.

For some families it is not initiation into faith that is important but the celebration of the child and a good excuse for a family party. If that is the case you might like to consider a simple service of Thanksgiving for the Life of a Child instead of full blown baptism. Contact the vicar and work out what the right service is for you. She'll be delighted to help either way!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Unlike weddings and funerals there is absolutely no charge for Christenings or services of thanksgiving. God's gift of faith and salvation is available to everyone who truly wants it, free and gratis regardless of whether or not we deserve it and so baptism (which is the first big step towards faith and salvation) is similarly without cost. So don't put off baptising your child on financial grounds! It isn't like saving up for a wedding. The Church wants people to come to faith!

A WORD ABOUT GODPARENTS

If you are serious about the real meaning of baptism and its importance for the soul of your child then think hard when choosing your Godparents. Best friends or relations with absolutely no Christian understanding are not going to help your child grow in faith or pray for him or her throughout their lives. All should be baptised themselves and it pays to make sure that if possible there is at least one Godparent who is active in the faith. Godparents are there to help with the spiritual side of your child's life as well as be a general friend and support.

YOUR RIGHTS

As part of the Church of England and bound by laws of parliament, St Martin's is required to provide baptism to anyone who asks for it. This means that you will be welcomed even if you clearly do not believe in God, eternal life after death and all that baptism stands for. However we raise the issue so that you can make an informed decision with integrity. God is quite capable of working in any life regardless of what the church thinks – and actually regardless of the unbelief of the family. Indeed the vicar was brought up in an unbelieving family and look what happened to her!

Want to know more? Contact the vicar about baptism by clicking here

BAPTISM FOR OLDER CHILDREN AND ADULTS

Increasingly we are seeing people who were not baptised as babies coming forward to make their own choice for baptism. This is a real joy and the whole church delights in someone opting for faith in this way. Contact us to learn more.

CONFIRMATION

Baptism can only be done once and cannot be undone. If you want to commit to a life of faith but were baptised as a small child before you were able to make the decision yourself please get in touch. Confirmation renews your baptism vows and allows you to make a public declaration for Christ. We usually have a confirmation service every year for people over the age of 12 (most candidates are adult) and we would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to know more.

'Lord, if your people still need me, I will keep working'     St Martin of Tours