Baptism is a ‘sacrament’ – a visible sign of God’s love. By becoming baptised we thank God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledge His love.
Christening is a term generally used to describe the baptism of a child. However baptism marks the start of a journey of faith – for all ages at any stage of life.
It is also very much a membership ceremony as the one being baptised becomes a member of the Church on earth and promises to be an active follower of Jesus, promises made by the Parents and Godparents for those too young to speak for themselves.
Useful link: www.churchofenglandchristenings.org
During the service
During the baptism service the baptism candidates (or their parents and godparents if the candidate is a child) will be asked to declare publicly that they believe in God and will follow Jesus.
They will also be asked to declare that they have turned away from everything which is evil or sinful and promise to turn instead to Christ.
In addition, a number of important signs and symbols will be used:
Why are godparents or sponsors necessary?
Godparents are important people who have special tasks. They promise to help their godchild come to know God, encourage him or her in their membership of the local church and take an interest in their spiritual life. They make the same promises as parents on behalf of the child being baptised. They commit themselves to pray for the child and help the parents bring up the child in the Christian faith.
Children should normally have at least three godparents, two of whom should be the same sex as the child but we are very flexible. They can be family members or friends (and parents can also be godparents). But to carry out this role, the Church of England requires that all godparents have been baptised and preferably confirmed as well.
Q. Is there a difference between a baptism and a christening?
A. None, they are just different words for the same thing.
Q. I’m not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptized?
A. The Church believes that God’s love is available to all so anyone can be welcomed into the Church by baptism.
Q. When do baptisms take place?
A. We would be delighted if families could have their child baptised in any of our regular Sunday morning services when the church family will be present. We should be happy to talk this through with you.
However, Baptisms can be arranged any Sunday after 1.00pm. We would usually arrange for only one family alone at these services.
Q. Can older children and adults be baptised?
A. Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned are committed to bring up a child as a Christian.
Teenagers and adults may also be baptized. This is would normally be celebrated at a confirmation service by the Bishop.
A really good resource is the Church of England’s website – www.churchofengland.org go to the section on Baptism.
““I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It distresses me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.” (Toyohiko Kagawa)