What is Baptism?
Baptism (or ‘Christening’ as it is sometimes called) by water and the Holy Spirit is how we become members of the body of Christ that exists here on Earth and in heaven (the Saints) and as those who have died and now await the end of days.
Baptism is not primarily a naming ceremony – although the name of the person being baptized is important in the ceremony and adults coming to baptism will sometimes take a new name, usually that of a saint, at their Baptism; nor is it primarily a thanksgiving for the birth of a new baby, although we always give thanks to God for the gift of all human life.
Baptism is a gift, but it also imposes obligations, most importantly to worship God in church and to seek actively and conscientiously to be formed and educated by life in the Church as Christians who live to serve Jesus Christ. Those seeking Baptism at St Mary’s will be asked to make a commitment to regular worship as part of their preparation for Baptism and ongoing life in the Church.
How do we know if we can have our baby baptized at St Mary’s?
You can have your baby baptized (or get baptized yourself) marry in a Church of England church such as St Mary’s if you can show
that one of you:
- has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least six months or
- was Baptized in the parish concerned or
- was prepared for Confirmation in the parish or
- has at any time regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least six months or
that one of your parents, at any time after you were born:
- has lived in the parish for a period of at least six months or
- has regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least six months or
that one of your parents or grandparents:
- was married in the parish
What does ‘in the parish’ mean?
Each Church of England church serves an area called a parish. It has fixed boundaries and you can check which parish you live in by visiting http://www.achurchnearyou.com/and searching on your postcode. Because of the variety in size and shape of parishes, the Church of England church you are nearest may not be your parish church, especialy in large cities.
How do we choose Godparents for our baby?
When an infant or very young child is baptised, his or her Godparents (and usually parents also) will make Christian declarations and promises on their behalf. Godparents must therefore be themselves already Baptised and living in a manner that is consistent with Christian teaching; ideally they should also be Confirmed. Parents who are not Baptised are welcome to attend the Baptism of their child and stand with their family at the font, but are not asked to make the Baptismal promises and cannot be Godparents to their children. People who are not baptized or who are members of other religions cannot be Godparents.
Unbaptised parents who are seeking Baptism for their children may wish to speak to the parish priest about being Baptised and Confirmed themselves.
When an adult or older child is Baptized, they will also be Confirmed. Confirmation is administered by the Bishop and will require a course of instruction before it can take place.
If you wish to discuss Baptism (and/or Confirmation) at St Mary’s for yourself or a child for whom you are responsible, or have any questions about this information, please contact us.