Christenings (sometimes called Baptisms), is the sacrament of initiation into membership of the Church, the Body of Christ.
The birth of a child is a cause for celebration. Many people are overcome by a sense of awe at the creation of new life and want to express their thanks to God. If you are considering baptism it is important that you know something about the church for which you will be baptising your child into. Therefore initial baptism forms are only given out after you have attended a 10:30am Sunday morning service.
Generally, the Church of England encourages baptisms of children in their own local parish. The reason for this is to build up connections with a church which is local to you so can possibly walk to it and get to know your neighbours who may go as well. However in certain cases St Barnabas Church will baptise children and adults who do not live in the parish.
Baptism is not just for children it is open to all who want to start a new journey of faith. It is sign of new life, in the Bible (Acts 8:12) it says:
'But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.'
If you like to know more about baptisms please contact the church office on 01442 217366
The information below is taken from our Christening Leaflet
What is a christening?
A christening is a time of thanksgiving that your amazing child has come into your lives. It is also a time to acknowledge God’s love for your child and ask His blessing on him / her as you want them to grow in their spiritual lives. This service gives an opportunity to have family and friends be part of your thanksgiving.
Christenings can be called a baptism (there is no difference between the two; it is just that the word ‘christening’ has become more popular). They both mean the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives.
At St. Barnabas Church, christenings usually take place on a Sunday morning within our 10:30am morning service. This is so that your child can be seen to be joining the family of the church and be welcomed in. In turn, the church will promise to support and pray for you and your child. In the christening service, parents thank God for the gift of life, make a decision to start their child on a journey of faith, and Godparents promise help and support. The church also promises to welcome the child and to pray for the family.
Can anyone have a christening service?
The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and adults for christenings. You do not have to be married or in a couple, whatever the shape of your family God welcomes you and your child. We regularly christen children from church families but you do not have to be a regular churchgoer for your child to be christened. Often, the birth of a child brings about a new desire to consider God’s creation and matters of faith. There are lots of opportunities within the church for people’s faith to develop. Please ask the vicar about these.
Can we arrange a christening
at a separate time or day?
There may be opportunities to have the service at a different time. Please speak to the vicar about this.
How old should my child
You can have your baby or child christened at any age. There is no upper age limit,
But, after about the age of eleven, your child may be able to make the promises for themselves. Talk to the vicar about christening an older child and how this might differ from a baby's christening service. Adult christenings are also encouraged.
What happens during the service?
The vicar will make sure
you know where to sit and when you need to move. Some parts of the service will
be for everyone to join in with; some will be for you and the Godparents. The christening part of the service will
normally take place at the front of the church, with the parents and Godparents,
gathered around the font.
The vicar will ask the parents and Godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child. We encourage parents to be involved in picking songs, bible readings and special readings or poems.
Making decisions and promises
When you bring your child for christening, you and the Godparents will be asked to declare publicly, on behalf of your child, that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus’ teachings. You will be asked to answer, on your child's behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and instead, to turn towards Jesus Christ. The declarations made by the both the parent(s) and the child's Godparents will be made in front of the congregation and they, in turn, will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
Symbols and actions used during the service
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
- Water - the vicar will put water on your child's head. Water is for washing and cleansing. In a christening it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
- The sign of the cross - the vicar 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.
- Candles - Jesus is the Light of the World. You will be given a lighted candle as a reminder of the light which has come into your child's life.
- The vicar’s robes – the white robe signifies the purity of new birth in the spiritual sense.
What about Godparents?
Godparents are some of the most important people at the christening.
Godparents are not the people who will care for your child should anything happen to you. Arrangements for this would normally be made by a will. Rather, they should be people who will be there for your child and help them think about the bigger questions in life - questions of love, hope and faith. They will offer encouragement, prayer and support for your child, and help them discover more about the Christian faith as they grow up. Choosing your child’s Godparents is a big decision.
Every child should have at least two Godparents, usually three, and ideally
two of the same gender as the child being christened. They should be at the christening
where they will make promises to help bring your child up in the Christian
· Is it a big responsibility? It is. They are making serious promises. They should remember this day and do something special on its anniversary with the child.
· Do they have to be regular churchgoers? No, but we would encourage them to develop their own faith by coming to church. Godparents must have been christened themselves. They also need to be old enough to make some serious promises on behalf of the child.
How will I remember what happened?
We will give parents and Godparents a card to remind them of the child's christening and the promises they have made. Keep it somewhere you will see it every day, so you remember to pray for them.
Hopefully, later on in the child’s life they will want to make their own declaration of faith at a confirmation service. At a confirmation service they confirm and take on themselves the promises their parents and Godparents made for them at the christening.
I’m not sure a christening is for us now. Can we still have a church service?
· We also can offer a Thanksgiving service. This service is used to celebrate the gift of a child in a different way without the commitment that christening involves. During a Thanksgiving service, parents and families give thanks for the birth of a child and everyone prays for the child and his/her family. It would still normally take place during the morning service in church with the congregation, but it may be possible to be held privately with just family and friends gathered.
· A Thanksgiving service is not a christening. There are no promises, use of water or a commitment to the Christian faith. However, the child will be blessed and prayed for, and supporting friends will promise to support the parents in bringing up their child.
How much does a christening
A christening service is free. This service is about a celebration of a person starting a journey of faith and St Barnabas is just happy to be part of this.
Finally, is it just a ceremony?
A christening is more than a one-off event. It is asking the questions: ‘Is there more to this life than what we can see?’ and, ‘Is there really a God of love who cares for me?’ Exploring these questions will take you on your own journey of faith.
For more information please contact the vicar on Tel: 01442 253681 or the church office on Tel 01442 217366.