Baptising (or christening) a child means making a big decision. You are asking for your child to be admitted to the Christian Church and you will be making promises to bring them up as a Christian. Having your child baptized means you are willing to make a commitment to their faith and to the church.
Your child's Baptism will normally take place during the main Sunday service at 10.30am. This is so that your child can be seen to be joining the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. In turn the Church will promise to support and pray for you and your child.
We will help you feel at ease during the church service and guide you through what you need to do and say.
Part of the service will take place at the front of the church, but for the Baptism itself, parents and godparents, family and friends, will be asked by the vicar to gather around the font. (The font is a large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)
The vicar will ask the parents and godparents to make promises on behalf of the child.
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.
Symbols and actions used during the service
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross - the vicar will make the sign of the cross 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.
Water - the vicar 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.
Anointing - after baptism in water, the minister may put the christening robe on the child and anoint him or her with oil. This is a sign of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit.
The welcome - the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that your child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them.
Candles - Jesus is the Light of the World. A large candle is lit in the church and you will be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child's life.
There is no charge for a Baptism service but you are expected to make commitments so you need to be really sure it is what you want.
Going to church
At St Francis of Assisi, everyone is welcome at the 10.30 am Sunday morning service, where there are some activities during the services for children. If you would prefer a less formal service, we meet on the 4th Sunday, at 4pm each month for Service with a Smile- a 40 minute family orientated service, with games and activities, a bible story and songs.
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to keep the promises you have made at your child’s baptism and encourage you to find the place where you are most at home.
You will be given a leaflet about the services when we talk to you about the Baptism (or Thanksgiving) and we will send you regular invitations to events aimed at children and families.
What to do next?
When you have made a decision as to the sort of service you would like, you need to complete a form giving us all the details we need to begin to plan the service. We will let you know which dates are available for the service and talk you through the things you need to do and how to choose Godparents or supporters. One of our team will visit you at home to talk through these things with you. Our contact numbers are at the back of this leaflet.
Adults and older children
It isn’t just babies that are baptised. You may have made a decision to wait until your child is old enough to make promises for themselves and can understand what baptism means for them. We have a leaflet for older children which talks them through what Baptism is and helps them to understand the service and the promises they will make.
Usually adults seeking baptism are encouraged to explore a combined baptism and confirmation. Confirmation is when you affirm for yourself the promises made at your baptism. If you decide you want to be confirmed we will encourage you to think about what it means to be a Christian. We will help you do this either by a series of visits to you or by inviting you to a course with other people.
Talk to us about what it is you feel ready for; baptism, confirmation or both.