It is great that you want to celebrate your baby’s arrival with family and friends, and to have an occasion to share your joy with them.
You may well feel you want to come to church to say “thank you” to God for the miracle of this precious new life, and to ask God’s blessing as your child grows up. There are several ways to do this in church. The most usual are a Thanksgiving service and a full Baptism – leaflets explaining the different services are available on request.
These notes are offered in an effort to answer some of the common queries about Thanksgiving Services and Baptisms.
Please do contact the Rev Canon David Eaton if you are considering having a Baptism or Thanksgiving service for your child at St Mary the Virgin Buckland or St Michael’s Betchworth:
Hon Assistant Priest: The Revd Canon David Eaton 01737 843915
1. Full Baptism or Thanksgiving?
Baptism is sacrament of entry into the Church. At the beginning of the Church’s history it was solely adults who were baptised, making a public affirmation of their faith and of their decision to become disciples of Christ. Soon the children of such adult disciples also began to be baptised, with the significant adults in their life promising to nurture them in their own faith and lead them by prayer, teaching and example. The wider Church also has a part to play in this and so also makes pledges and offers a welcome in the baptism service.
As well as being a joyful and happy occasion, a baptism marks an important stage in someone’s life (even if, as a baby, they are not aware of it at the time!) Like all important events, it is good to think beforehand about what it involves and how things might change afterwards.
The Thanksgiving service has some things in common with the Baptism service (both use authorised Church of England liturgies): the naming, the thanksgiving, the prayers and the blessing. In addition it includes the giving of a gospel as a gift. But, unlike baptism, there is no water and no one is publicly asked to make solemn promises or to answer questions about their faith.
The Thanksgiving service stands as a service on its own, expressing simple and sincere thanks to God and asking his blessing. Some people also choose it because they feel they should allow their child to decide whether or not to be baptised when older. Others do not yet feel able to make the vows which are required in the baptism service, or plan to have their child baptised later, but would like to thank God for their child’s birth early on.
2. Helping you decide
After making contact with the clergy, either at a Service or by phoning them on the above numbers), they will visit you and ask you to share with them what you would like for your child. This may well include looking with you at the two options of a thanksgiving service or a baptism. For the latter, they can help you think about the meaning and significance of the promises contained in the baptism service. They will give you the opportunity to ask any questions, for example about baptism it may be about godparents, the service, the church or anything else and they will, of course, enjoy just spending time with you and getting to know you a little better.
After the clergy visit, the next thing to do then is phone the Parish Office (01737 845935) to fix up a date.
3. The services – timing
Baptism and Thanksgiving services usually take place on the Third Sunday of the Month, during the Family services at 10.30. It is also possible to arrange other times according to the church calendar, occasionally at 12.00 or 3pm on Sunday afternoons. There is also the opportunity to have them during the main Parish Communion at either 9.30 or 11.00 on other Sundays. We, of course, aim to make the service as special to you as possible, but there may well be other children being baptised at the same time. This adds to the joy of the occasion.
4. What happens afterwards?
A child’s baptism marks the start of a journey of growth to a fulfilled Christian life. Children are an important part of the church family and we warmly welcome them to Sunday worship and Sunday School.