Baptism (or Christening)
When an adult or older child is baptised, they declare before God and the congregation that they believe in Jesus Christ. When a baby or young child is baptised, the parents and Godparents make these promises on behalf of the child. The Baptism of a child is about a public commitment to bring the child up to know and love and serve the Lord Jesus, and share in regular worship. Later, when older, the child may wish to say these promises for themselves at a service of Confirmation.
- What is Baptism?
- Infant Baptism or Christening
- Adult baptism, or the baptism of older children
- The baptism promises
- The profession of faith
- Baptisms at St Nicholas, Sturry and All Saints, Westbere
- How do I make enquiries about baptism?
- A service of Thanksgiving and Blessing for the Gift of a Child
What is Baptism?
"In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light
To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life in him."
When Jesus died on the Cross, He took our sins onto Himself. He paid the price of our sins. This means that we can be forgiven even though we don't deserve it. The water of Baptism is a symbol of God washing away our sins as an act of forgiveness.
In the early days of the Christian church, baptism usually happened in open water. Coming out of the water was seen as a symbol of rebirth or new life. This still happens in some churches today.
In St Nicholas, Sturry and All Saints, Westbere a font is used for baptism. Water is poured onto the person's forehead as a symbol of forgiveness (washing away our sins) and new life.
What is Infant Baptism or Christening?
The Official Naming of a baby?
No, a baby is officially named when you register your baby's birth. Baptism makes no difference to a child's name. Within the baptism service, the words "N, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" is not about giving the baby a name. It refers to God's name!
To Ask for God's Blessing?
We ask God's blessing on a child and on his/her parents in a service of Thanksgiving and Blessing .
To Promise to bring the children up as Christians
This is what happens within Infant Baptism.
At the baptism, the parents and Godparents publicly:
- declare that they believe in Jesus Christ and trust in him;
- promise to live as Christians and worship God regularly at church,
- promise to pray for the children,
- and promise to help the children worship God regularly at church.
The actual questions asked and answered are the baptism promises.
Adult baptism or the baptism or older children.
For adults and older children, baptism is a public declaration that they have decided to follow Jesus Christ. The actual questions asked and answered are the baptism promises.
The baptism promises
In the service itself, the parents and godparents are asked a number of questions. The first two are about the parents' and godparents' role, which is to encourage the child to grow to trust and to follow Jesus Christ:
Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?
With the help of God, we will.
In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church?
With the help of God, we will.
The following questions in the baptism service are about the faith of the parents and godparents - turning away from all that is wrong in their lives and then positively and publicly turning towards Jesus Christ and consciously placing themselves into his hands. Adults and older children will answer these for themselves.
To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him.
Therefore I ask:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them.
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ.
Together with the church congregation, the parents and godparents (or adults/older children) also declare their belief and trust in God - God our heavenly Father who made the universe, his Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross and who rose again to bring us back to God, and the Holy Spirit of God who shows us the truth about God and enables us to live for him. This is called the profession of faith or creed.
Baptisms in St. Nicholas, Sturry and All Saints, Westbere
The baptism service takes place within the normal Sunday morning service so that the Church family can share in the promises made with the parents and godparents to bring the child up within the Christian faith.
How to enquire about baptism
Please contact the Rector or Methodist Minister. They will then arrange a convenient time to call and discuss baptism with you.
What are godparents for?
Being a godparent is much more than a social convention, and godparents share responsibility with parents for bringing up the child in the Christian faith. Every new Christian has sponsors to pray for them and support them.
Being a godparent is different from being a legal guardian of the child. If anything happens to the parents, the godparents are specifically responsible for the child's religious upbringing. Godparents may also be the legal guardians of a child, but are not automatically so.
Choose people whom you know will pray for the child.
Choose people whom you know will mean what they say in the service, when they promise to help and encourage the child to grow in the Christian faith, and when they themselves declare their faith and trust in the living God.
Choose people who are definite Christians and members of their local church: baptised and preferably confirmed. If that is difficult, you could ask any member of the local church; the vicar would be glad to help you.
The traditional number is three: two of the same sex as the child, one of the opposite sex; but feel free to choose as appropriate to your own family.
If you decide to have a service of thanksgiving rather than a baptism, you can still have sponsors.
The role of the godparents in the baptism service
In the baptism service, the godparents, together with the parents declare their belief in God and promise to encourage their godchildren to grow in the Christian faith.
These questions go very deeply into how we stand with God, and so need serious thought. Being a godparent can be a helpful opportunity of reaffirming your own commitment to Jesus Christ.
Service of Thanksgiving and Blessing
At a service of Thanksgiving and Blessing, we thank God for the safe delivery of the baby or child. We pray for God's blessing on the child and the parents.
A service of Thanksgiving and Blessing is offered as a preliminary to all baptisms of young children, but it is also very appropriate on its own when:
- parents find that they cannot, in all conscience, make the public declarations which are part of the baptism service or commit themselves to regular worship in church.
- parents do not wish their children to be baptized immediately.
The profession of faith, or creed
Within the baptism service, the congregation and those to be baptised make a statement of their faith:
Do you believe and trust in God the Father?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.