We’re delighted that 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.
So what is baptism?
In baptism, you as parents are: thanking God for his gift of life, making a decision to start your child on the journey of faith and asking for the Church’s support.
For your child, baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from all that is evil, turning towards Christ, and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.
Baptism is also a ‘sacrament’ – a visible sign of God’s love – wherein we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from selfishness and evil and to accept God’s offer of a new start.
The church, into which we are baptized, is a group of people who identify themselves with the mission and purpose of Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection. Baptism, therefore, is the initiation into this group of people, and to be baptized is to identify yourself with the mission and purpose of Jesus Christ. This is a sacred and special opportunity to declare, “I believe the best possible way to live is the way of Jesus, and I am committed to following Christ—daily dying to myself and allowing the resurrected Christ to live in and through me.”
Your child’s baptism will take place during the main 10:45am Sunday morning service. This is so that your child can be seen to be joining the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. In turn the Church will promise to support and pray for you and your child. The minister will make sure you know where to sit and when you will need to move to the front of church. Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in, others will be solely for you and the godparents.
The baptism itself will take place at the font, where the minister will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child until they are old enough to do so for themselves.
When you bring your child for baptism, you will first be asked to declare publicly, for yourselves and on behalf of your child, that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus. You will also be asked whether you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and instead to turn towards Christ.
These declarations will be made in front of the church congregation – the local Christian community – who will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
• The sign of the cross – the priest will make the sign of the cross on your child’s
forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with
Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.
The minister will say:
“Christ claims you for his own.
Receive the sign of his cross.
Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.”
They may also invite the parents and godparents to sign the cross on the child’s forehead.
• Water – the minister will pour water onto your child’s head. Water is a sign of
washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from
sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is both a sign of life, and a symbol of death. When we are baptized, it is as though our old life has been buried in the waters (like drowning) and we have been raised again to new life with Christ.
• Anointing – after baptism in water, the minister may anoint the child with oil. This is
a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
The minister says:
“May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church,
pour upon you the riches of his grace,
that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people
you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,
and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.”
• The welcome – the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to
acknowledge that you child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are
to have you among them.
• Candles – Jesus is the Light of the World. A large candle may be lit in the church and
you may also be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the
light which has come into your child’s life.
It’s now up to the parents, godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and shares this light with others.
Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptised as the parents. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.
Every child should have at least three godparents: two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. Godparents can be family members or friends. However, it is important that you choose people who will take an interest in your child’s spiritual welfare and who will pray for you and your child. Godparents must themselves be baptized, and should also be confirmed.
You may wish to request a service of ‘Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child’ – either prior to a baptism or instead of a baptism. In this service, you thank God for the gift of your child and the child is blessed by the minister. You do not make the same promises as in the Baptism service. If you choose to have a Thanksgiving service, you may still request a Baptism service for your child at a later date.
So what is the first step you need to take?
Contact the Vicar, Revd Paul Reynolds, on (0115) 922 9600 in order to arrange an informal conversation about the various possibilities which are open to you, and how you might set about planning for your child’s Baptism or Thanksgiving.
Please refer to the link below for answers to specific questions.
Part of the material contained within this page is copyright © 2011 Archbishops’ Council