Thank you for your interest in having your child baptised at St Mary’s Church, Thorpe.
If you’re a parent interested in a Christening we want you to know that your child is precious to God. Just as you want the very best for them, so does God. St Mary’s welcomes all babies, children and families for christenings, whatever shape your family takes. You don’t have to be married or have been a regular churchgoer – as a parent, you don’t even have to have been baptised yourself – though you could be. (Godparents do need to have been baptised!) But you do need to want God to be a part of your child’s life, to entrust them into God’s care and to be willing to encourage their growth in faith. Baptism is a very special moment in the Christian journey of life and recognises that we are accepted by God and special in his sight. We really look forward to sharing in your celebration and hope these notes are useful as you prepare for your family occasion with us.
In baptism, we thank God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledge his love. In the Anglican Church (Church of England) it is common to baptise young children; this is sometimes known as christening (to "christen" means to "give a name to") whereas baptism is one of the sacraments of the Church and a holy ritual to symbolise grace, that is to say a visible sign of something God does in our hearts. In the Christian tradition baptism can be traced back to Jesus himself being baptized in the river Jordan, by John. Baptism involves naming a person and marking them with holy oil as God’s child; they are then washed by water (poured over the head three times) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When do services of baptism take place?
Traditionally, we don’t hold baptisms during the season of Lent (February/March). For the rest of the year services of Holy Baptism will be available on the fourth Sunday monthly at 12noon. (By special arrangement they may happen on the 2nd Sunday monthly, again at 12noon or in the main 10am Sunday Eucharist Service). Baptism is a public rite (It is not a private occasion) as the Christian church welcomes your child into the family of faith.
What happens on the day of Baptism?
You need to arrive in good time before the start of the service. St Mary’s don’t have our own Car Park – there is some parking (12 spaces) at the Vicarage next door to the Church (Please only park cars on the red gravel area) and in Church Approach (10 spaces) but otherwise you will need to encourage guests to find on-street parking within Thorpe Village. (Strictly: No use of TASIS School facilities, car parks, grounds or buildings is permitted by baptism families or their guests).
On arrival at St Mary’s our warden on duty will welcome you and your guests and hand out a printed service sheet which we will follow through – a copy of the service text is attached to these notes. The congregation have an important part in welcoming your child(ren) who are joining the family of the Church and therefore welcomed into membership. The congregation will promise to support and pray for you and your child and this ‘Welcome’ will be repeated at the next Family Service following on from the Baptism of your child which you are asked to attend.
We ask that Parents and Godparents sit on the front row of the church. If in doubt, the wardens on duty will show you know where to sit. The service begins with a welcome, bible reading, a short the Sermon/talk, a Hymn and the Collection (during which financial gifts from the congregation to help support the church are gathered). Then the priest will invite you and the Godparents to stand at the front of the church, facing the congregation for the presentation of the candidates(s). Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in; some will be for you and the godparents to answer (or the candidate themselves if they are an adult). For the baptism itself, the parents and children are asked by the priest to gather around the font. (The font is a large stone basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism which is right at the front of St Mary’s Church on the left hand side.)
Making decisions and promises yourself or on behalf of others
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, and your Godparents (who must themselves have been baptised) 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 turn towards Christ. The declarations made by you and the child's godparents will be made in front of the church congregation. You will be asked:
Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?
You answer: With the help of God, we will.
In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church?
You answer: With the help of God, we will.
Frequently asked questions about Baptism
Q. What's the difference between a baptism and a christening?
These names are sometimes used interchangeable for the same service. Technically to "christen" means to name a child whereas baptism is the whole service, including the pouring of water over the child’s forehead three times and one of the sacraments of the Church.
Q. What is the right age for baptism?
Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned are committed to bring up a child as a Christian. Teenagers and adults may also be baptized. This is celebrated with confirmation by the Bishop. You can only be baptised once, but there are ways of renewing your Christian commitment publicly as an adult - your priest will be able to advise you.
Q. I'm not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptized?
Yes. The Church of England believes that God's love is available to all, regardless of their background. One of the clergy is happy to talk you through the options and it is usual for them to visit you/your family at home . You may also wish to find out more about the Christian faith and what joining the Church involves before you make a decision about baptism. St Mary’s runs regular courses for enquirers. Ask one of the clergy team about these.
Q. What does it cost? (2019 Church of England Fees)
The Church of England charges a small fee of £14 towards the costs of the certificate and we ask for this to be paid in advance of the ceremony. There are no other charges for a service of Holy Baptism. However, at each service a collection is taken during the Hymn and we ask you and your guests to be as generous as possible in supporting us in this way. Please help us by making your donation in one of our yellow gift-aid envelopes, completing the information required and dating the front. (Only those who pay income tax are eligible to claim gift-aid on their donations).
Q. Can my child be baptised at St Mary's if I don't live in Thorpe Parish?
As part of the Church of England we serve the parish of Thorpe, so those who live in Thorpe or regularly attend worship (or were married here in the past or have another qualifying connection) have the automatic right to have their children baptised at St Mary's. Hopefully one of these connections applies to you! If not, you would need to attend church regularly (for example our fortnightly 11:30am Family Service) for at least six months before a member of the ministry team could write to your local vicar for permission to baptise your child at St Mary's.
Q. Who should I choose as Godparents and how many?
Traditionally each child has three godparents but we have made provision on the application form for four. Godparents should have already been baptised because they are making Christian promises before God and have a special role. It's about helping a child to come to know God, encouraging them in their spiritual life and supporting them in their membership of the local church. During the service the priest asks Godparents, as well as parents to declare their intention to do support the child. The priest asks if they are 'prepared to walk with [the child] in the way of Christ' and will 'help them take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church'. God parents need to be able to answer honestly ‘Yes’ to each of these questions.