In the Bible we read that Jesus welcomed young children, blessed them and said, “The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
At St James’ Church we are delighted to celebrate the birth of your child, to help you offer thanks and prayers for the future and to welcome your child into the world-wide Christian community of the Church. Older children are of course equally welcome to be baptised and in such cases we will seek to help them understand and take part in the occasion. Adult candidates will normally have a longer period of preparation that will conclude in their baptism and confirmation (see below).
Baptism (also called ‘christening’) is free of charge and straightforward to arrange. Through baptism, however, a seed is being sown in your child’s life. With your support, that seed will grow into a living faith. With Jesus as our example we know that Christian faith leads to fullness of life but often at some cost: hence the central sign of Christianity is the cross.
If you do not live in our parish we encourage you to seek baptism for your child at the parish Church where you live, as this will give your family a valuable link there. If, however, there are strong links or other good reasons to arrange the service at St James’ I will be pleased to help, but you will still need to make contact with your own local Church to seek their support and prayers.
You will need to select Godparents. They must themselves be baptised so that they can speak on behalf of the Church as well as on behalf of your child. It is traditional to have three, of whom two are of the same gender as your child, but neither of these conventions is obligatory.
We will arrange to visit you a week or two before the service.
Confirmation, conducted by the Bishop, is a service for older youngsters (aged about 10 and above) and adults of any age. It enables the candidate to confirm the faith into which they were baptised and also allows the Bishop to confirm the assurance of God’s love that was promised at baptism. Receiving Holy Communion usually follows confirmation and is intended to support and strengthen us in leading Christian lives. I hope I sow a seed here for your child’s (or your own) future consideration.
What next? A date and time for the baptism should be arranged with me or with our Church office. Call 01425 653179 or email. The service can take place either during our main Sunday service at 10.30am or at a separate time, usually either 12.45 or 3.00pm. We generally offer a choice of times and dates. A member of our Church will deliver and will be glad to collect the simple application form from you. It is helpful for us to have the completed form by at least two weeks before the baptism takes place. This Baptism Supporter will also be at the service to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between christening and baptism? None! ‘Baptism’ is the word used in the Bible, whereas ‘christening’ is a traditional term describing the same thing.
How much does a baptism cost? Nothing! There is no fee. Baptism is intended as a reminder of God’s love for each person and we feel it would be wrong to charge. At the service there will be a plate for anyone to give an offering if they wish.
What if we’re not married (or if I’m a single mum) – can our child still be baptised? No problem! It would not have been a problem for Jesus, so it’s not for us either. If in due course you wish to be married in Church then, of course, we would love to help arrange it.
Does a child have to be baptised to go to heaven? This is an unfortunate fear that has no grounds in the Bible or in Christian tradition. In the Bible Jesus makes clear that each child is close to God “and the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”. The Church believes that God loves your child whether or not he or she is baptised. The baptism, however, gives us a down-to-earth reminder and assurance. Just as two people may love each other, but saying so can help it grow: in the same way, God loves your child, but baptism is giving God a chance to say so and help it grow…
What’s the best age for our child to be christened? Any age is fine. In the old days, when everyone lived more locally, children would be baptised within a few weeks. This is still a lovely time for baptism, but rare nowadays. At any age your child is welcome, and if he or she smiles or cries or sleeps it doesn’t really matter, it’s still just the most special event!
Do we have to use a special christening robe, and what if our child’s too big for it?! No, any clothes will do fine. A christening robe was more usual when babies were mostly younger at their baptism, and was intended to symbolise their being ‘clothed in Christ.’
One of our preferred ‘Godparents’ isn’t baptised – can they still be a Godparent? No: because part of a Godparent’s role is to represent the wider Church, they have to have been baptised themselves. It is not usually practical to arrange the baptism of an adult in order for them to become a Godparent, as preparation for adult candidates should normally take place over several months. Someone who is not baptised can be given the role of ‘soul friend’ to your child and the clergy will be happy to discuss this.
Can we take photos at the service? Not during, but at the end, either around the font or anywhere else in or outside the Church, you are welcome to take photos.
Why do some Churches say children can’t be baptised? Most of the ‘mainstream Churches’ (for example, the Church of England, Methodist and Roman Catholic) baptise children as well as adults, believing that in this way we reflect Jesus’ own welcome of children and help to sow a seed of faith that can grow naturally with the child. Some others, such as the Baptist and Congregational Churches, argue that it is better to wait until adults can speak for themselves. These Churches therefore offer prayers of dedication but not baptism.
If our child wants later on to become a Catholic or join some other branch of the Church, will they have to be baptised again? No. All the mainstream Churches as mentioned above recognise the validity of each other’s baptism, so your child would not need to be re-baptised. All Christians agree that baptism should be ‘once only’ even if (as commonly happens) we ‘go astray’ afterwards. Baptism is the reminder that we always have a home to return to, a home where we belong and are welcome. This home is God.