A Service of Thanksgiving and Blessing.
Many parents we meet say that the important thing about a Christening (or Baptism) is to say thank you to God for the gift of their child, and to ask God’s blessing at the start of the child’s life. It is also an important occasion to celebrate with your family and friends.
The church can offer a special service to express exactly this. We call it a service of Thanksgiving and Blessing. It is a very personal service for your child and your family, and the Rector will chat to you about what you would like to include. Many families like to write or say their own prayers, choose readings and poems, and involve any older children.
There will be prayers of thanks for the gift of your child for you to join in, the adult supporters will be welcomed, the Rector will hold your child and say a special prayer of blessing, and your child will be given a lighted candle to remind them of the love of God that shines in their lives. There will be songs to join in if you wish, and a short Bible story. The service usually lasts about 20 – 25 minutes.
This service is NOT a baptism service (a Christening). A service of Thanksgiving and Blessing can be a good idea if you wish to have a celebration for your family, so that at a later date, more quietly, you can come to church for your child to be baptised.
A service of Thanksgiving and Blessing can be held at a time that suits you and your family (as long as it fits in with the Rector and the church). It does not even have to be on a Sunday, and is not part of the usual Sunday services. You are not asked to make promises about the Christian faith, nor promise to bring your child regularly to church as you would be in a Baptism service. The “god-parents” you choose are called “Supporting Friends”. They play an important part in the service but, unlike baptism, they do not have to be baptised themselves.
(It is worth knowing that it is not necessary to be baptised in order to be married in church.)
A Service of Baptism.
In Baptism a child (or an adult) becomes a member of the church, and from that day onwards will be known as a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ, a Christian. When a young child is baptised the parents and the godparents make promises on behalf of the child. They promise to follow the Christian Way themselves, and be recognised as part of the Christian Community. They promise to bring the child regularly to church, teach them about the Christian faith, and pray for them.
The parents and godparents are then asked to make the promises of the Christian faith, in believing and following Jesus Christ, putting their trust in Jesus as God Almighty. The child is signed with the sign of the cross, is baptised with the water poured over their heads (as a sign of God’s forgiveness) and is given a special lighted candle. The child is welcomed as a member of the church - both locally and throughout the world.
The service is very beautiful and meaningful, and is especially suitable for families who are already regular church goers. Like a service of thanksgiving it is personal, and includes prayers of thanks. However, there is no specific “blessing” of the child.
Because of the nature of the promises, and the welcome the child is given into the church, a baptism service is always held in church on a Sunday. It is normally held within the main Sunday service. The godparents must be baptised themselves.
If you would like a baptism service for your child, we ask that you start coming to church as regularly as you can before the service is booked, as you will be promising to bring the child to church afterwards. At St Guthlac’s we have some very special and suitable services for young families and children, including monthly “Worship Together” on Sundays (usually the second Sunday in the month) and “Stepping Stones” at 3pm on the first Sunday in the month (especially for younger children). We will also ask you to attend a Baptism preparation session, at a time that suits you, to more fully understand the Christian promises you will to more fully understand the Christian promises you will be making.
We ask you to think carefully about which of these options is most appropriate for you. Do remember that it is very possible to have a service of Thanksgiving and Blessing, and follow it at a later date - when you feel ready - with a Baptism.
There is no charge for either service, but you might like to consider giving a donation towards the upkeep and work of the church. A guideline is £30 - £40.
There is more information about Baptism on this website.
Please ask any questions that you have – my phone number and email address are on the contact page.