Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, Baptism, Reaffirming Baptismal Vows and Confirmation Policy
Welcome. We are delighted that you would like to explore a service of initiation into the Church of England either for yourself or for your child. In this document we hope to answer some commonly asked questions and explain our policies and procedures for this Parish. If there is any further information you require please speak to a member of the clergy who will be very pleased to meet with you.
Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child
What is Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child?
Thanksgiving services are an opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to God for the wonderful gift of your child. The priest will pray for your child, for any other children you may already have and especially for you as parents, in your responsibility of bringing up this child. You will be given a gospel as a permanent reminder of the Thanksgiving Service. This service can occur at any time and place, by agreement with the clergy. It is not a replacement for Baptism, and a Baptism can still take place later.
Why Thanksgiving rather than Baptism?
Increasing numbers of families choose a Thanksgiving Service, probably for two main reasons:
1. Sometimes parents in all in conscience cannot make the necessary Christian promises in Baptism whilst keeping their personal integrity. Yet they want to come to church to say thank you and to offer prayers. The service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child can be arranged which may include supporting friends and a naming ceremony. This service does not require parents to commit to promises but it enables parents to celebrate the new birth and to give thanks.
2. Sometimes parents would prefer their child to experience Baptism when (s)he is older. Parents may still pray with their child, read them Bible stories and tell them about Jesus. But the child
will be able to choose for themselves and experience their Baptism as an older child or adult.
What is Baptism?
Baptism (sometimes known outside the church as Christening) is a sacrament – an outward sign of something that has been going on within us. In Baptism we are declaring outwardly that we have found faith and are determined to continue on that journey. In Baptism we become full members of God’s church. Baptism is available for children, young people and adults. For people who are twelve or older, Baptism must be followed by Confirmation (see below).
What happens in the service?
• In the Baptism service we turn towards God and we turn away from all that hampers good relationships with people, with creation and with God.
• We are marked with the sign of the cross (the badge of Jesus Christ) and we profess our Christian belief.
• We give thanks for the gift of water and we remember that like God’s people of old who came through the sea to freedom in the Promised Land, so we go into and through the waters of
Baptism to a new life. This is symbolised by the sprinkling or pouring of water.
• Promises are made to follow Jesus Christ and to be a part of Christ’s church on earth.
• We are baptized in the name of God the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit reminding us that just as there is a relationship within God, so we are called to build relationships that
transform the world.
• We receive God’s gift of being adopted into his people (the church).
• We are given a lighted candle signifying that God journeys with us as we grow in faith and as we serve our neighbours near and far.
Who can be baptized in the churches of the Parish?
We are always delighted to carry out Baptisms for regular members of our congregation and for people who live within our parish boundaries. If you live outside the parish boundaries, then we
will direct you to your local parish church unless there is a reason why one of the churches is the place where you will find your spiritual home.
When do Baptisms happen?
Baptisms happen at the main Sunday morning service in each church. This is because Baptism is a celebration for the whole church, and the congregation will make solemn promises to uphold
you as parents and provide a spiritual home for your child. Because having a Baptism significantly changes the shape of the Sunday service for the whole congregation, we have specific dates when Baptisms will happen. We suggest that in the months before the service you as parents find the right church service for your family so that you will be able to uphold your promise to bring your child up in the faith.
What about Godparents?
All godparents must themselves have been baptized and it is recommended that godparents should also be confirmed. They can belong to any mainstream Christian church but they have to
be happy to support the child being brought us as a member of the Church of England. Godparents must be 16 or older.
What about Preparation?
There is a Baptism Preparation session at the Rectory that you will be invited to attend, and a Baptism date will not be confirmed until you have attended one of these. We will talk about the promises that you will make and the meaning of different parts of the service. We will also try to answer any more general questions you may have about Christianity, faith or the church.
How much does a Baptism cost?
Baptism itself is free, including a card showing the date of Baptism. If a copy of the Baptism register is also required this costs £11 (this is rarely needed). We also hope that as you join our community you will feel able to support us financially as well becoming more regular attenders.
Reaffirming Baptismal Vows
Christians who have been baptized some time ago sometimes wish to renew their Baptismal Promises e.g. at Easter or maybe as part of a return to a more intentional Christian way of life. The Church of England recognises Baptism in any Christian church that uses water and undertakes this commitment ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. So if you have been baptized in another denomination, you do not have to be baptized again. In fact, it is
not possible to be baptized a second time but we can renew our commitments any time. Please ask the clergy if you wish to do this.
What is Confirmation?
Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which you affirm for yourself the faith into which you have been baptized and your intention to live a life of committed discipleship. This affirmation is confirmed through prayer and the laying on of hands by the confirming bishop. The Church also asks God to give you power through the Holy Spirit to enable you to live in the way of Jesus.
How is Confirmation given?
The bishop will speak to every candidate by name saying:
(name), God has called you by name and made you his own.
He then lays his hand of the head of each saying:
Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.
The bishop will make the sign of the cross on your forehead with oil. This is a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. It 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.
Is there a preferred age for Confirmation?
There is no right age for a person to be confirmed. Anyone may be confirmed who has been baptized, if they are old enough to answer responsibly for themselves. In this diocese, the bishop has set a minimum age for Confirmation of 12 but there can be some leniency in this.
Am I ready to be confirmed?
People mature in their faith in different ways and at different ages. It is important that you come to Confirmation with firm personal conviction that it is right for you at this point in your life. If you are unsure about being confirmed you may wish to participate in the confirmation course to explore your faith further as you think about it. It is normal for Communion to be received after Confirmation.
I was baptized as a child, why do I need to be confirmed?
If you were baptized as a child, in Confirmation you are confirming the promises your parents made on your behalf at your Baptism about your commitment to a journey of faith.
What if I wasn’t baptized as a child?
If you were not baptized as a child and want to make a commitment of faith, you can be baptized and confirmed in the same service by the Bishop.
What is the purpose of a Confirmation sponsor?
At Confirmation you will be asked if you would like a sponsor to stand with you as a symbol of their journeying with you in faith. Usually this is someone who has previously been confirmed. It may be one of the people who has prepared you for Confirmation or it may be a good friend, a relative or a Godparent.
What about Preparation?
You need to be prepared before Confirmation. Preparation will take the form of a course of instruction, usually with others and led by a priest. It will take place over a number of weeks and will help you explore your own faith and understand Christianity better.