It’s great that you want to explore getting your child baptised at St John’s! We would love to help you explore baptism further to see if it is something you wish to do.
As baptism involves making promises to bring the child up in the Christian faith and to help them take their place within the life of the church, it is expected that families who wish to explore baptism will have started coming along to St John’s and seeking to take their place within the life of the church.
People have all sorts of different reasons why they want their child to be baptised.
Baptism is an important time to give thanks to God for your child and to dedicate his life to God.
Baptism is also an important marker in Christian faith. It marks the beginning of a journey of faith where parents and godparents pledge to raise their child in the Christian faith and help them take their place within the life of the church.
There is no difference - the two words refer to the same ceremony. We prefer to use the word ‘baptism’ as that is the word used in the bible and across the world-wide church.
Baptisms normally take place during our main Sunday Service at 10.30am. It is symbolically important that baptisms are held during a normal service as baptism is all about joining of the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. One of the images used in the bible to explain what being a Christian is about is to use the imagery of a family. The bible talks about how believers are ‘adopted as Children of God.’ Jesus taught us to pray to God by calling him ‘Father.’ Baptism is about recognising that we are all made in the image of God and that through faith we can be adopted into God’s family.
In turn the Church will promise to support and pray for the baptism candidate and (if applicable) their parents and Godparents.
Part of the baptism service will normally take place at the front of the church, for the baptism itself, parents and godparents are usually asked to gather around the font. (The font is a large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)
The service involves the minister asking the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child
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 instead to turn towards Christ.
The declarations made by you and the child's godparents will be made in front of the church congregation; the local Christian community will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:
• 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.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptized, it is as though our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.
• 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.
The vicar says:
Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of his cross. Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
• Candles - A large candle may be lit in the church and you may also be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light of Christ which has come into your child's life and a reminder that as your child grows, they are to shine as lights in the world, bringing God’s love to those around them.
• The welcome - 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.
Normally there are two or three godparents for each baptism candidate. 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. Godparents must themselves be baptized, and should also be confirmed.