During this time of Vacancy please contact Rev’d Nik Stevenson with enquiries about Christenings.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What time should we arrive at church for the baptism?
Try to arrive about 15 minutes in advance.
How long is the service?
About half an hour.
Are videos and photos allowed during the service?
Please do not use a flash during the service and try to be discreet. Videos may be taken as long as the video operator remains seated and does not move about during the baptism. There will be plenty of time for photos and video after the service, too.
How much does baptism cost?
There is no actual fee for baptism, but any donations are gladly received. If you are a taxpayer, please remember to fill in a Gift Aid envelope with your donation. There is a fee set out by the Church of England for the Certificate. The real cost of baptism is of course your whole life in loving service to God and neighbour, and following the example of Christ and acknowledging Him as Lord.
Do we have to go to church to have a baptism at St Francis?
Though there is no obligation to go to church, going to church regularly is an important and enjoyable part of being a Christian. It’s impossible to be a Christian on your own! As one early Christian writer put it, “you can not have God as your Father if you do not have the Church as your Mother.” We all need the encouragement of other Christians in order to practice our faith, and that’s what we are promising to do in baptism for ourselves and for our children.
Can we have a ‘church place’ for our children if they are baptised at St Francis?
A ‘church place’ or Foundation Place in a Church of England School is completely dependent on parents attending worship regularly and we do operate an attendance register for those wishing to qualify for a church place as requested by governors. Do speak to the Vicar, Fr Clay, as soon as possible if you wish to apply or if you have any questions.
What is baptism?
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.
The bond which God establishes in Baptism cannot be broken.
In baptism (also called Christening), you as parents and godparents are thanking God for his gift of life, deciding to start your child on the journey of faith, and asking for the Church’s support.
For your child, baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from the darkness of self-centredness, turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.
Baptism is a sacrament: a visible sign of God’s love.
In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from the darkness of evil and make a new start with God.
Making decisions and promises
When you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus.
You will be asked to answer on your child’s behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and to turn instead towards Christ.
The declarations made by you and the child’s godparents will be made in front of the church congregation. The Christian community will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
During the service, you will be asked to make the following declarations:
Do you turn to Christ? I turn to Christ.
Do you repent of your sins? I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil? I renounce evil.
The answers to these questions are printed in bold type on the service sheet, and will be talked about during the Baptism Prep, along with other aspects of the service. The Baptism Prep is your opportunity to ask questions and quiz the priest!
At the end of the service the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that you child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them.
Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptised as parents. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.
Please limit the number of godparents to a maximum of four, with three being the norm: two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. Godparents can be family members or friends.
However, it is important that you choose people who will take an interest in your child’s spiritual welfare and who will pray for you and your child. They must be baptised themselves.
Some practical considerations
Your child’s baptism can take place at the main Sunday service or on Sunday afternoon at 12.30 or 3pm. The clergy will make sure you know where to sit and when you need to move to the font. The font is the large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism. Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in, other parts will be for you and the godparents alone.
For the baptism itself, parents and godparents will be asked by the clergy to gather at the front of the church around the font.
Symbols used in baptism: the cross, water, oil and fire
A number of important symbols will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross – we will make the sign of the cross with oil on your child’s forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.
The priest says: ‘Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of his cross. Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.’
Water – we will pour water on your child’s head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptised our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.
Anointing with oil – after baptism in water, your child is anointed with blessed oil, called Chrism. This is a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, and is the “Christening,” which means “anointing.”
The priest says: ‘May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.’
Fire: Jesus is called the light of the world. The Easter Candle will be lit in the church and you will be given a lighted candle as a reminder of the light which has come into your child’s life. It is up to you, the child’s godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and shares this light with others. It’s very good to light the candle on the baptism anniversary and on other special days, and to say a prayer. There are good examples of prayers with children on the Church of England website.
Try to make prayer part of your daily routine with your child. It can be very simple, such as this prayer right before bed:
God bless our family and may Jesus send his angels to guard us and keep us safe. Amen.
Or this prayer:
Bless this house, Lord, and drive far from it the evil one. Send your holy angels to watch over us and keep us in peace, and may your blessing be upon us always, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.