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 his arms, just as Jesus did. He then does several things:
- Before God and before the congregation he officially names the child.
- He says a prayer of thanks to God for the child and for a safe delivery at birth.
- He prays for protection of the child.
- He prays for the child’s parents, and for their home.
- He asks for God 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.
The service of Baptism is one in which the parents and the godparents stand up in church on a Sunday and make clear statements about their Christian faith.
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 therefore a service in which 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.
They 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 for Sunday Club and to be part of anything else the church may offer children – and St. Faith Church offers a lot!
These declarations should not be made without serious thought beforehand.
Parents who wish to have their children baptised must either be members of the church family or signify their commitment by attending the training class with the proposed godparents.
It is also desirable that they attend church at 9.30am on several Sundays.
There is no fee for a service of baptism, but there is for the Certificate of Baptism and is £12.
Canon Tom Kennar
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