Baptism, sometimes known as Christening
This page is intended to give background informatiom about what baptism is, and also to answer some of the questions you may have, particularly about arranging for a baptism at St Augustine’s Church.
What Baptism is
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, Godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us. Our “drowning” in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus’ baptism.
And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness. Everyone who is baptised walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
Baptism Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Christening and a Baptism?
There is no difference between a Christening service and a Baptism service. Some churches will use the word “baptism” and some the word “christening”. Babies are baptised during a christening service just as couples are “married” during a “wedding” service.
Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes, so long as they have not been baptised already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for Christenings — whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. You do not have to have been a regular churchgoer — as parents, you do not even need to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at our church. Just ask if this is something you are considering for your baby or child or for yourself as an adult.
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.
Every child usually has at least three godparents. Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.
Godparents must be baptised themselves and old enough to make some serious promises on behalf of the child.
How much does a Christening service cost?
The good news is that a Christening service is free. There may be costs for your family party afterwards, for gifts, or for christening robes, but the church service is free.
Where can we hold the Christening?
We are arranging for Christenings to be held separately for families with numbers attending according to the current guidelines.
How do I arrange a Christening
Simply send an e-mail to email@example.com or ring Revd Beverley Miles on 07786 924 942.
How old should my child be?
You can have your baby or child Christened at any age. There is no upper age limit, but after about the age of seven your child may be able to make the promises for themselves.
What happens in the service?
At your baby’s Christening, water will be blessed and poured on the baby’s/child’s head — this is the baptism of your baby (the word “baptism” means “to be immersed in water”). The baby will be signed with the cross and a special oil may be used for this. A candle or other gift from the church may be given. Godparents and parents will make promises on behalf of the baby, and prayers will be offered for the baby and the family. There may also be readings and hymns, which you may be able to choose — we can discuss any special requests.
Do I have to choose baptism? Is there an alternative service instead?
If you are not ready for baptism we can offer a special service of thanksgiving for the birth of a baby or the adoption of a child. If you contact us we can discuss this.
What does being a godparent involve?
Congratulations on being asked to be a godparent: you are a very important person! We know that your friends or relations will have thought hard about this. They have chosen you to be a special person in their child’s life, someone who will offer encouragement, prayer and support for the child, and help them discover more about the Christian faith as they grow up.
As a godparent you have a special role. It’s about helping a child to come to know God, encouraging them in their spiritual life and supporting them in their membership of the local church.
You need to be at the Christening where you will make promises to help bring them up in the Christian faith. It’s a role that will grow over time, as your godchild grows up and develops their own faith.
What about adult baptism?
Most of the above applies except you will have sponsors rather than godparents as you will make your own declarations and promises.