Thanksgivings & Baptisms

It’s great that you are thinking about a Thanksgiving or a Christening for you child here at St Michael’s. We are thrilled that you are eager to find out more and are considering either to have a service for your child or for yourself. We hope that this page helps answer some of your questions and will help you as you think through whether this is the right step for you at this time. Of course reading all this is fine, but we would love to chat to you about it all, so if you want to find out more please do call Richard Wilson on 01225 421438 or email him at richard@stmichaelstwerton.com

 

A Thanksgiving Service

You may have heard about a service called a ‘Thanksgiving’.  Some people call it a ‘Naming Ceremony’ or a ‘Blessing’, others still call it a ‘Christening’.  The service is available to everyone who would like it, whether you attend church or not and whether or not you feel comfortable calling yourself a Christian. It is a wonderful service which (as it says on the tin) gives thanks to God for the life of your child and asks for God’s protection and God’s help in bringing the child up. At a thanksgiving service the minister will lay hands on your child and pray for you and your child. They will give you a candle as a sign of Jesus’ light in your lives and children can have godparents to support them.

Over the last 5 years this has become by far the most popular service parents choose.  They are easy to book up and plan and parents love the informality of the services which can be shaped around each family’s particular wishes.  As the service can take place outside normal service times it is easy to arrange around a family party or celebration.  Unlike at at a baptism parents can also choose the music and give it a very personal flavour with your own powerpoint slideshow.

 

Baptism

Although being baptised as an adult and being baptised as a child are different, the meaning for both is the same. However, because there are differences between them we have prepared two further sections – one called ‘Adult Baptism’ and the other called ‘Children’s Baptism’ – to make things as clear as we can.

What’s it all about?

The New Testament teaches that Baptism is the act by which a person, having openly declared a trust in Jesus Christ and a desire to follow him, is joined to the Christian Family, the Church. Baptism involves both a personal allegiance to Jesus and a commitment to the life, fellowship and worship of the church.  In other words it means that a person has been so gripped by Jesus that they want to make him the centre of their life…

Baptism is a first step in response to the gift of new life in Jesus.  Importantly, baptism is an identity marker – a badge – that not only identifies us as belonging to Jesus, but also helps us remain faithful to him all our lives. Through Baptism we are saying that we have died to our old lives and now live for Christ alone. Through baptism we are trusting Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and for the power and freedom of the Spirit to live a new kind of life – the kind of life that Jesus had.

As a church here at St Michael’s our main aim is to bringing people to faith in Jesus – Children and Adults. We therefore encourage those who come to faith to make their commitment to Jesus public in baptism. Baptism is normally administered at a public Sunday service when a large number of people are present, either in the traditional manner of sprinkling with water from the font, or by total immersion. Baptism is not a private thing but a public thing and having it in our main service gives the congregation as a whole the opportunity to welcome new members and to remember their own profession of faith made to God in their baptism.

From early times, the Church has also baptised children who are not yet old enough to profess faith for themselves, on the grounds of the obvious faith of the parents and on the understanding that they will teach them about Jesus and how to be a disciple like them. Just as children learn language simply by being surrounded by it and by trying it out, we baptize children of Christian parents in the expectation that they will naturally learn from them what ‘living in Christ’ means. We see that children of Christian parents belong to Jesus right from the start of their lives and because baptism is a badge that says “I belong to Jesus”, we think that Children of Christian parents should also be baptised if their parents want them to be.

But this all depends on faith… and consequently as part of the baptism service parents and godparents are asked about their faith and called upon to make public their own love of God and their discipleship of Jesus. In line with Anglican tradition, parents and godparents who choose baptism for their children are required to have been baptised and ideally also confirmed or to be fully communicating members of the Church.  It is expected that parents will be fully involved in the life of the church community, worshiping with the church on Sundays and growing the their faith.

 

What to do?

If you want to take any of this further the best person to call is the Rector, Richard Wilson.  Preparing for baptism usually takes several months because baptism is so important to the us as a church… but why not give Richard a call.  He’d be delighted to come and talk more with you about it all.