Baptisms and Thanksgivings
Baptism is often called 'christening' although at Holy Trinity we prefer the term baptism because it’s the term the Bible uses, added to which ‘christening’ could give the misleading impression that we are making your child a Christian in the act of baptism. Getting a child baptised doesn't make them a Christian - that is a decision your child will have to make for him or herself once they are older. If you are thinking of having a child baptised, the first thing to do is to start coming to church.
Why come to Church?
Coming to church won't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage would turn you into a car, but if you're thinking of having a child baptised, it's important to come to church for a number of reasons.
- It's good practice. In the baptism service you will promise to bring your child to church and be part of the church family with them. We want you to be certain that when you make the promise, you are prepared to keep it - plus, it would be bad practice on our part to make you promise to come to church after your child's baptism if that wasn’t your practice before it.
- It helps you understand the baptism service and the promises you make. Coming to church will help you make sense of what it means to be a Christian and what is involved.
- It helps you get to know us. Baptism is partly about bringing a child into the church family. You will want to know whether ours is a church family that you want yourself and your child to be part of.
- It helps us to get to know you. In the baptism service the whole church family promises that they will welcome your child and pray for them. That is hard for them to do if they have never met you!
What is a Thanksgiving service?
A Thanksgiving is what every child will receive before they are baptised. It is an opportunity to thank God for the gift of children and for us as a Church to pray for them and for those bringing the child to baptism. We can book in your child's Thanksgiving service almost straight away, once you've come to Holy Trinity and met with our Rector, Martin.
If you’re not a Christian or are still thinking through your faith in Jesus, but would like to celebrate the birth of a child, then we offer the chance to have a Thanksgiving service without baptism. That's because this type of service presents no assumptions or expectations regarding the faith or lifestyle of the family who take part and requires no promises from them – exactly what many are looking for – while still ensuring you can thank God for and celebrate the gift of your child.
Where and When?
Baptisms and Thanksgivings are always at our main 10:30am service on the third Sunday of the month. You can invite your friends and family and there are Sunday Clubs for children and teenagers once the baptism is finished, so you can enjoy the rest of the service. We do ask that you commit to coming along to services to help you get a feel for things.
Our standard practice for all those who would like a child baptised is to spend a few weeks with us looking at the central claims of Jesus Christ in a very informal way. We usually do this as a seven week course called Christianity Explored. There will be a meal, a short video and then a chance to discuss what we’ve heard and ask questions. No question is too hostile or awkward and many find it to be a good way to examine the Christian faith as a couple in an honest way. We ask you to do this because the Bible says baptism is a sign that is given to Christian parents and their children. We do not want to make hypocrites of you and ask you to make promises from the front of church during the baptism service that you do not mean. Christianity Explored therefore gives you a chance to work out whether or not you believe what you’ll be declaring in the baptism service.
Once you’ve finished Christianity Explored and are happy that the baptism service represents your own convictions about Jesus, our Rector, Martin, will confirm the baptism date with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Parents’ Responsibility?
When children are baptised, their parents are asked to declare their own Christian faith and to raise the child with a clear understanding of the Christian message. They should also encourage their child to become an active member of the church family.
What is the Function of Godparents?
To be a Godparent is a privilege, a responsibility and a challenge. Godparents make the same promises as do the child's parents. They declare their own belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ and promise that, by prayer and example, they will lead their Godchild into the same faith. As such we ask that all Godparents can say their oaths during the baptism service with integrity. We don't want to make hypocrites of people, so a careful choice needs to be made.
The Church of England requires that all Godparents are themselves baptised. It also stipulates that there needs to be at least two Godparents of the same sex as your child plus at least one of the opposite sex. There is no limit to the number of Godparents your child can have. It should be a minimum of three. Thus a girl would usually have two Godmothers and one Godfather, and a boy would have one Godmother and two Godfathers.
What if, after the Thanksgiving service, we decide we can't make the baptism promises in good faith?
We will always support your integrity if you don't believe you can make the baptism promises. This is one of the reasons the Thanksgiving service exists, so that if baptism is not right, you can still celebrate and thank God for the gift of your child.
Does Everyone Need to do Christianity Explored?
For the reasons given above it is our standard practice at Holy Trinity to ask you to do this.
What if only one of the Child’s Parents are Christians?
Many parents in this situation worry that they are somehow not able to have a baptism or that their child’s baptism will be second class in some way. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that baptism is to take place in the context of faith and that one believing parent is certainly enough for their upbringing to be distinctively Christian. However, it may be that on the day of the baptism it’s right for the unbelieving spouse to stay silent during the oaths as a matter of integrity. There will be plenty of time in the baptism preparation sessions to discuss this further and to look at the key Biblical texts.
Can we have our child baptised in a different venue?
Because biblically children are baptised into a church family we are unable to perform baptisms anywhere but Holy Trinity. Your child will be raised in the Holy Trinity family and we want to ensure the church family are the ones who commit themselves and pledge themselves publically to supporting and nurturing your child’s faith as he or she grows up.
What if we’re not regular members at church?
Again, because the child is to be baptised into the church family, any children baptised at Holy Trinity need their parents to be regular members.
Please contact us on email@example.com if you are interested in Baptism and we will look forward to welcoming you in church.