“…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age..” [Matthew 28:19-20]
Welcome to our baptism and thanksgiving information page
We’re so glad you want to know about the possibility of baptism at one of our churches.
However, sometimes we find people are a little confused about what baptism (or Christening) is, so let’s start by clearing up a few misconceptions about baptism.
Baptism is not:
- a naming ceremony for a child.
- a way for your child to automatically go to heaven.
- a way to help with school entry.
- a way to get extra rights to be married in a church, or buried in its graveyard!
So what is Baptism?
- is a public ceremony that announces to the world your decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
- Involves you making public promises about your commitment to the Christian lifestyle and your faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
- Is a commitment to continue being part of God’s worshipping community, the church.
For baptism to have integrity, you must be ready to:
- make a public promise that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.
- make a public promise about your lifestyle that may mean you have to make some significant changes to how you live.
- commit to regularly worshipping in church.
Sometimes people can find those promises a bit intimidating, however, we’ll do some preparation with you before the baptism to help you understand what they mean.
Sometimes, even after a preparation course, people aren’t sure about the promises. That’s quite normal, and some people at this point opt to have a service of Thanksgiving instead.
What is a Service of Thanksgiving?
A “Thanksgiving for the gift of a child” is a public celebration to mark the birth and naming of your child. We give thanks for your child’s new life, and commit both you and the child to God, asking for his help and blessing in the years to come.
It is the sort of service that almost anyone who believes in God can stand up and take part in, even if they are not sure what else they believe. It’s a way in which parents can express their gratitude for the birth of the child, and receive God’s blessing on them and the child.
If you would like to give thanks to God for your child and publically name them, then a thanksgiving service is a great option. We can arrange a thanksgiving easily and quickly, as apart from an initial meeting with the vicar, there is no formal preparation necessary. We can also be a lot more flexible with dates. Please contact our office to find out more about a thanksgiving!
I want to go ahead with baptism for myself or a child.
If you are ready for the commitment of baptism, here’s what to do next!
- Please don’t make any promises to your family about dates! Preparation for baptism can take a few months from the first enquiry to baptism. This is to allow us time to prepare you properly.
- Regularly worship in our churches (by regular we mean more than once a month, perhaps for a period of 6 months). Get involved, get to know the church community.
- Once they’ve got to know you, speak to one of our clergy about baptism.
- Fill in and return a baptism application form. Please follow the instructions below to download and return an application form.
- Attend our baptism preparation classes. This will help you think-through the promises you are making.
- Once preparation is well underway, the vicar will begin to explore a date with you for the baptism. We cannot guarantee a date with you until this stage in the process. Please note that not all of our regular Sunday morning services are ideal for baptisms. This is especially true during busy periods such as Christmas and Easter.
- Continue to worship regularly with us, and get involved in the lives of the people in our church community.
We know life is busy (especially with small children), so if you aren’t ready to for this level of commitment, why not consider a service of thanksgiving instead?
Note, please don’t open the form in your browser. Instead, save to your computer by right-clicking the download button and choosing “Save Link As”. Then fill in the document on your computer, save it, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not already have Adobe Reader, you may need to install it – it’s free, just click here.
Baptism Frequently Asked Questions…
Whilst we will do our best to accommodate you, we cannot make any guarantees. Not all of our churches have services each week, and even when they do, not all of our services are suitable for a baptism to take place in them. Please don't book a reception venue until we've agreed on a date for the baptism. We'll generally agree on the date as part of your baptism preparation course.
The Church of England's laws state that baptisms should take place as part of a church's main public worship, not a private ceremony. The reason we do this is that baptism is not so much a naming ceremony as a membership ceremony, a time in which a child (or adult) is welcomed into God's people, the church. That can only happen properly if the regular worshipping congregation is present. If this is something you are not comfortable with, please talk to the vicar you do your baptism preparation with about the possibility of a Thanksgiving Ceremony instead.
In the baptism ceremony, parents make three very big promises to God, their families and the church, all on behalf of their children:
- I turn to Christ
- I repent of my sins and
- I renounce evil.
To ensure you understand these promises, the vicar taking the service will invite you to a short baptism preparation course. This will normally involve several couples and several meetings. Towards the end of the course, we'll talk with you about possible dates for the baptism.
The Church of England's national guidance on godparents is as follows:
- Godparents will be people who’ll be in touch with your family for many years to come. They may be relatives or friends of the family.
- They’ll be people who you know you can trust and who’ll be there for your child to talk about the bigger questions in life; questions about faith, hope and love.
- They should feel ready to make some big promises about faith for your child in church.
- Every child should have at least three godparents, two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex to your child. Although there is no official maximum number of godparents, three or four is usual. If you’d like more than that, talk to your vicar about the practicalities and they’ll be pleased to advise.
- Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.
- Because of the very special role they have in supporting your child’s faith journey, godparents must be baptized themselves. Ideally, they should be confirmed too, but check with the vicar about the local policy on this. If your godparents have not been baptised, it's likely that they will need to come to the Baptism Preparation classes also and be baptised prior to the baptism of your child.
If you’re thinking about asking someone who is under 18 to be a godparent, talk to your vicar first. There’s no minimum age for godparents, but they must be mature enough to understand the responsibilities they’re taking on; your vicar can help you decide if this is the right choice for your child and the young godparent.
There is no charge for a baptism, though we do occasionally make a small charge for the baptism certificate. Discuss this with the vicar who takes your baptism.
We'd normally encourage you to have your child baptised in your local parish church (you can find which ecclesiastical parish you live in by clicking here. If you live in one parish but normally worship in another (or have a family connection to another) please tell us this when you complete the application form.
We'll talk more about the meaning of baptism as part of the preparation process. You may find the information here helpful also.
No, in the Anglican tradition, baptism and christening are two words for the same thing. Read more here
Sometimes friends or family may want to buy a Bible for a child being baptised. We’ve found some of these Bibles are particularly good for children. For a child that enjoys reading, try these modern Bible translations:
- Good News Bible (Bible Gnb).
- God's Words of Life for Kids: New International Reader's Version (God's Words of Life).
For younger children, try these bibles:
- Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (An excellent children's bible - from about age 4).
- Lion First Bible. Suitable for under 3s.
- The Lion Storyteller Bible (Read-aloud). Great for under 4s if you like to read out loud to them.