The Church of England offers two different Services to parents at the birth of a child.
They are the service of Thanksgiving and the service of Baptism
The Service of Thanksgiving is specially an occasion to thank God for the child and to pray for him or her. There can be a hymn, a Bible reading and a short talk. The most important part of the service is when the minister receives the baby in their arms, just as Jesus did. Then the minister does several things:
- Before God and before the congregation the child is formally named.
- A prayer of thanks to God for the child and for the safe delivery at birth is said.
- Protection of the child is prayed for.
- The child’s parents, and their home are prayed for.
- God is asked to bless the child.
This service need not take place on a Sunday. The difference that people usually notice is that there is no water, because, of course, it is not a service of Baptism. On the other hand, there is no obligation on the parents to attend church or be members of it. A certificate is given to say that the service has taken place. The child is then free later on to make up its own mind whether to get baptised or not.
BAPTISM (also known as ‘Christening’)
The service of Baptism is one in which the ‘candidate’ is ritually washed as a sign of the washing away of sins, and of the start of a new life as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is offered to people of all ages, but for those who are too young to make the promises for themselves, God-parents are asked to make promises on the candidate’s behalf
It can generally be offered only to people who live in the parish (see the parish boundaries map below). Anyone who lives in the parish has a legal right to be baptised. You do not have to be a regular church member to exercise this legal right. The timing of the service (date & time) is at the Rector’s discretion.
For those who do not live in the parish, baptism can be offered at the Rector’s discretion for the children of parents who are regular members of the church. (We define regular as meaning weekly attendance for at least six months – allowing for the occasional Sunday away – and members of the Electoral Roll).
All other baptism candidates, or their parents, are advised to contact their local parish church (where the legal right to baptism exists). (A post-code search to find your parish church can be made at www.achurchnearyou.com )
During the service, candidates (or their parents and God-parents on their behalf) make some very profound and serious promises. They must say that they ‘turn to Christ’, that they ‘repent of their sins’, and that they ‘renounce evil’.
They must also say that they believe and trust in God the Father who made the world, in Jesus Christ who redeemed mankind, and in His Holy Spirit who helps the people of God.
It is also a service in which candidates (or their parents & God-parents) declare that they have a strong commitment to follow Jesus and live each day by His teachings, praying often to Him and trusting Him for everything. Parents and God-parents are promising to teach their children to do the same and to be an example in this to them. They are taking on a duty to bring their child to church, so that their child may grow up with an understanding of the faith.
These declarations should not be made without serious thought beforehand, and so all candidates (or their parents and God-parents) are routinely required to meet with their assigned minister, to discuss the service and its contents.
Some adult baptisms are arranged in concert with the Bishop, as many adult candidates are also invited to ‘confirm’ their baptism promises at the same time, through the service of ‘Confirmation’ (always carried out by the Bishop).
Canon Tom Kennar, Rector
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St. Faith Church Boundaries
1 = St. Faith’s Church, Havant 2 = St. Nicholas Chapel, Langstone
Please note that baptism is generally offered to parish residents (or regular church members) within the parish boundaries
To check whether you live within the boundaries please go to the Church of England website at https://www.achurchnearyou.com/ and put in your post code – this will tell you which parish you live in
For visitors outside the parish please click on the following web sites for information on directions to Havant and for accommodation: