Christening - celebrating a new life
Everyone is welcome to have their baby or child baptised at a Christening in their parish church. We would love to talk with you about having a baptism service for your child at St Mary's Church. You may have a lot of questions that need answers but here are some of the most common. If you still need help and advice, please get in touch with the Rector, Revd Mark Daborn, to find out more.
Some frequently asked questions:
What exactly is Baptism?
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives. This first step is a response to God's love. It is also a celebration, a time to come together with family and friends; remembering that your child is loved by God, is part of a wider community and has a place with God's people.
What is the difference between a Baptism and a Christening?
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.
What happens in the service?
At your baby's Christening, water will be blessed and poured on the baby'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 - the vicar will discuss this with you when he meets with you to discuss the baptism service.
Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes, as 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 have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask the Rector if this is something you are considering for your child.
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. In this situation, you will need to discuss with the Rector how this might differ from a baby's Christening service. Adults who have not been Christened may also ask for baptism – there is no age limit.
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.
It is usual to have at least three godparents, two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex. Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent. Godparents must have been baptized themselves and old enough to make some serious promises on behalf of the child.
Where can we hold the Christening?
We would be more than happy to welcome you and your baby to be Christened here at St Mary's Church. This can be done as part of the main Sunday service, or it may be possible to arrange for baptisms to take place at other times if the need should arise.
How much does a Christening service cost?
The good news is that a Christening service is free. There may be costs for an organist, for your family party afterwards, for gifts, or for christening robes, but the church service is free.
How do I arrange a Christening?
Simply contact the Rector, Revd Mark Daborn, and ask for advice.