You and the godparents:
· Thanking God for his gift of life
· Deciding to start your child on the journey of faith and asking for the Church’s support
· Joining the church in expressing your belief in God and praying for your child
· Beginning a journey of faith
· Becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family
· Sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus in a symbolic way
· Promising to welcome, support and pray for you and your child
· Being reminded of the importance of this baptism for every Christian
· Providing a worshipping community where everyone can grow in faith
Christians describe baptism as a sacrament – a visible sign of God’s love. We believe that God loves people of every race, creed or colour. At baptism we are thanking God for the gift of life and acknowledging his love. We are turning away from evil, sin and darkness and turning towards Christ
A baptism is a very important occasion involving serious decisions. You have to say that you will help your child ‘walk in the way of Christ’ and ’take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church’. You will have to answer questions on your child’s behalf. This involves stating that you have decided to turn away from everything that is evil or sinful and turn instead towards Christ. The minister will explain the words of the declarations in greater detail beforehand.
When did Christian baptism start?
When Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan 2000 years ago, he became aware of God as his Father and felt the special presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This was a turning point in his life. You can find the story at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel in the New Testament. Later, after his death and resurrection, Jesus told his followers to make new disciples and baptise them too. This has been done ever since in Christian churches throughout the world.
How do we know we have faith enough?
You do not have to be a perfect Christian to want to follow Christ and it would be surprising if you never had any doubts or questions in your mind. The declarations show that you intend to do your best. You and the godparents must make the declarations yourselves, although the whole church will support you with these.
Shouldn’t our children make their own decisions?
Some people worry that they are imposing views on their children; but from the moment they are born, you make choices on their behalf. You don’t wait until they are old enough to ask for milk before you feed them and in the same way it is right to give them spiritual nourishment and teach them about the love of God from an early age. When they are old enough they may choose to be confirmed and make an adult affirmation of their faith.
Q. What’s the difference between a baptism and a christening?
A. None. They are different names for the same thing.
Q. What if a teenager or adult wants to be baptised?
A. This is perfectly normal practice. Talk to your minister about baptism combined with confirmation. It’s never too late.
Q. I’d like to be baptised again because I don’t remember anything
about my baptism as a baby.
A. You can only be baptised once – but there are other ways, including special services, of renewing your commitment to Christ publicly. Ask your minister about these.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. Baptism is free, but we ask parents, godparents and family to make a donation to the Church to help with the upkeep and mission work of the Church.
What will happen in the baptism service?
Your baby’s baptism will normally take place during the main Sunday service. It is a public celebration with the Church and not just a private ceremony. The minister may ask you to come to church with other baptism families for a rehearsal. We also hold a supper meeting for parents and godparents to explain the meaning of baptism. During the service the minister will encourage you to boldly and faithfully make the declarations.
The sign of the cross: A sign of unity with Jesus Christ.
Water: An important sign of life.
The Welcome: The congregation will welcome and acknowledge that your child has joined the church.
Candles: Light is an important symbol representing the presence of Jesus and all that is good
Q. Can anybody be a godparent?
A. Yes – so long as they have been baptised and preferably confirmed and are mature enough to act as a godparent.
Q. How many can I have?
A. This is up to you, but it is traditional that there should be three or more godparents, (of whom two should be the same sex as the child).
Q. Does being a godparent involve being a legal guardian as well?
A. No, the roles are quite separate (although some godparents might be asked to fulfil both roles).
Godparents are people chosen by you, the parents, to pray for your child and set them a good example of Christian living. They can be relatives or friends, but they must be willing to make the declarations set out in the service. They may be given a special card by the church to put on a notice board or other prominent place to remind them of their promises.
What happens next?