It always is a great delight and joy when families are blessed by the birth of a child. Within our United Parish, it is our desire that families and their children feel such a welcome within our church community, with a longing to nurture and grow our young people in their journey of faith in Jesus Christ. We discourage the idea of families simply coming to have a child baptised and then to never see them again after the service, as we desire that everyone feels such a sense of welcome and belonging, but also that the vows that they make before God are taken seriously. In the years ahead, we as a Church are committing to invest in the life of young families that we meet, and therefore we would love families to receive the best start possible with your children. Whilst the baptism of a child is an important aspect in Church tradition, it does not make a baby a Christian, and therefore we encourage families to invest in the long term spiritual growth of their children, through the many aspects of Church life that are offered within the United Parish.
Service of Thanksgiving
For some parents, they understand that references to Baptism within the New Testament occurred after a person had repented of their sins and recognised Jesus as their Lord and Saviour (Mark 1:4-5, Acts 2:38-41). Therefore they feel as parents that they would rather wait and allow the decision of baptism to be made by their child when they come of age to understand and accept it as their own. Recognising however the safe arrival of a newly born baby gives the family and the wider Church family the opportunity to celebrate. A Service of Thanksgiving therefore gives the opportunity for parents to celebrate and thank God for the gift of their new baby or young children, praying for God’s blessing on them as we welcome them into the church family.
Service of Infant Baptism
A Service of Baptism provides an opportunity for parents and Godparents/Sponsors, not only to celebrate and thank God for the gift of a new baby or young child, as we pray for God’s blessing on them and welcome them into the church family but also for the parents to make promises which declare their own faith in Jesus Christ as they seek to walk the Christian life on a daily basis, and demonstrating their deep desire to shape their children’s spiritual growth. These are important promises that parents will declare to God, and therefore we encourage them to be coming along regularly to church (at least 3 months) before a discussion can commence about Baptism. The Church of Ireland guidelines state that ‘sponsors and godparents must be baptised Christians and at least two must be members of the Church of Ireland or a denomination in communion with the Church of Ireland‘. As a church family, we uphold also the biblical teaching of marriage between one man and one woman. Therefore all couples who seek to have their child baptised must be married.
Here are the questions posed to the parents and godparents. If you are planning to present your child for baptism, please ensure you can answer these honestly before God.
To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. So I ask the parents and godparents, do you believe and accept the Christian faith into which …………..is to be baptized?
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.
Parents who present their children for baptism will also have the opportunity during the Service to share through an interview at the front of their church their own journey of faith and their hopes for their child.
Sometimes parents request a private baptism of their child. There will be valid reasons for a private baptism due to an unexpected health emergency with the child. Should this be necessary please contact Revd Jonny to discuss. In the case of other options for private baptism, we would discourage this practice. Within the Church of Ireland Service of Baptism, the church community are asked to promise to support and pray for the family and the child as they grow in faith within the Church. It is obviously impossible for these questions to be asked within a private baptism as the congregation would not be present.
Frequency of Services
A Service of Thanksgiving is provided every month at our Family Services. Whilst we would love to provide Services of Baptism whenever they are requested by families, there is a forward Schedule of Morning Services that are planned months in advance and therefore the theme or the type of service may not be appropriate when friends of the family come for the celebration of a baptism. We really want your child’s baptism to be a celebration, and therefore these are scheduled as part of our Family Services (last Sunday of the month) in February, May, September and November of each year.
Preparation for Infant Baptism
All parents who wish their children to be baptised will be required to attend a Baptism Preparation meeting. This get together will be very relaxed, and will allow parents to fully understand the promises that they will be making on behalf of their children. Only after this preparation should parents discuss and consider a date for baptism. At this meeting, you will have the opportunity to understand the practicalities of the Service so everyone knows what to do on the day. Please come and speak to Revd Jonny after any of our Sunday Services should you require any more information.
Adult Baptism and Confirmation
When people choose to surrender themselves, confess and give their lives to Jesus Christ and become Christians, we encourage those who were not baptised as infants to be prepared for baptism as an adult. For those who come to faith as adults but know they were baptised with water as children there is the opportunity instead to publicly re-affirm the promises that others made on their behalf when they were baptised.
There is a special opportunity each year for people to re-affirm their Baptismal promises in the context of a Confirmation Service. As well as re-affirming baptismal vows those being confirmed receive prayer by the Bishop of our Diocese with the laying on of hands. It is a powerful moment when the Bishop lays hands on someone and the whole congregation prays for those being confirmed.
For further details, please speak with Revd Jonny on 07808 479649 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org