Baptism is one of the two “sacraments” recognised by the Church of England. (The other is Holy Communion.) Both are connected with belonging. In the Gospels, we read about John the Baptist baptising people in the river Jordan. It is clear that those he baptised were, by being baptised, declaring themselves to belong to a new community – a community of people determined to serve God and keen to see his kingdom come. The word of God in John’s teaching had plainly affected them; they had become aware their manner of life had not been appropriate for citizens of God’s kingdom, so they took to the water in a symbolic and prayerful washing, committing themselves afresh to God’s service.
The Apostles continued the practice of baptising those who came to trust and follow Jesus as the King of God’s kingdom. Today, new members are still welcomed into the church family by baptism – the application of some water (either by pouring on the head or by full immersion) follows the candidate’s declaration of faith in Jesus and their expression of commitment to serve him throughout their life. The rite is a sacrament in that it is an outwardly visible act which represents and reflects an inward change in the life of the person.
The Baptism / Christening of Children
Many parents find that the birth of their children is a profoundly moving experience, and this is surely right; sharing in God’s work of creation ought to fill us with wonder. Accordingly, they often want to give thanks to God for their child, and to seek His blessing upon the little one and their whole family as they embark on a new journey of family life together.
For many, because of family traditions, the most obvious first step is to bring the child to be Christened or Baptised (they are the same thing with different names). We welcome requests like this and have a special programme of events for parents (and Godparents) which together we call Considering Christening.
Alongside Considering Christening, we expect parents who are considering Christening to get involved in the life of the church and to attend worship on Sundays if this is not already their practice. (The Christening service requires parents to promise they will do these things anyway.) To help parents consider the promises and statements they would be required to make in the Christening service, we expect most will also attend a discussion series called Christianity Explored.
Being a Godparent is a wonderful privilege and an awesome responsibility. It goes without saying that Godparents are to be trusted friends of the parents who would take care of the children should anything happen to the parents, but this does not convey the full picture.
The relationship of Godparent to child is primarily one of spiritual oversight. Godparents play a key role in the child’s growth to maturity in the Christian faith. For this reason, the Church of England requires that all Godparents are baptised, confirmed and over 16 years of age. We strongly advise that parents do not choose Godparents until they have attended the discussion elements of the Considering Christening programme. If parents have already approached prospective Godparents, we would encourage these close friends to attend Considering Christening too. There is more information for Godparents here.
As part of the Considering Christening programme, we invite all parents to celebrate the fact that God has given them a child through birth or adoption with a Service of Thanksgiving. This gives parents a great opportunity to thank God publicly for their child, to celebrate with friends, family and the local community, and to ask for God’s blessing upon the child and their family.
For initial enquiries about Christenings, please complete the form below and we’ll be in touch. We will keep your personal data secure. You may like to read our Data Privacy Notice (opens in a new tab).