The Baptism / Christening of Children
Many parents find that the birth of their children is a profoundly moving experience, and this is surely right; sharing in God’s work of creation ought to fill us with wonder. Accordingly, they often want to give thanks to God for their child, and to seek His blessing upon the little one and their whole family as they embark on a new journey of family life together.
Because the standard practice for years, and the tradition in many families, has been to bring the child to be Christened or Baptised (they are the same thing with different names), this is often seen by parents as “the thing to do” (especially when baby’s grandparents expect it). But there’s more to it than this, and Christening is not necessarily the most appropriate first step for all families. We like to give parents the knowledge they need to make their own informed choice about the best way forward for them. In order to do this, we have a programme of events which together we call Considering Christening.
Alongside Considering Christening, we expect parents who are considering Christening to get involved in the life of the church and to attend worship on Sundays if this is not already their practice. (The Christening service requires parents to promise they will do these things anyway.) We also encourage parents to join a Christianity Explored group as they consider the promises and statements they would be required to make in the Christening service.
Being a Godparent is a wonderful privilege and an awesome responsibility. It goes without saying that Godparents are to be trusted friends of the parents who would take care of the children should anything happen to the parents, but this does not convey the full picture.
The relationship of Godparent to child is primarily one of spiritual oversight. Godparents play a key role in the child’s growth to maturity in the Christian faith. For this reason, the Church of England requires that all Godparents are baptised, confirmed and over 16 years of age. We strongly advise that parents do not choose Godparents until they have attended the discussion elements of the Considering Christening programme. If parents have already approached prospective Godparents, we would encourage these close friends to attend Considering Christening too. There is more information for Godparents here.
As part of the Considering Christening programme, we invite all parents to celebrate the fact that God has given them a child through birth or adoption with a Service of Thanksgiving. This gives parents a great opportunity to thank God publicly for their child, to celebrate with friends, family and the local community, and to ask for God’s blessing upon the child and their family.