Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”
If you are reading this, then you are probably thinking about having your child baptised (sometimes we say Christened). At St Michael and All Angels we want to do all that we can to make your child’s Christening a happy day as well as a very holy occasion.
Below are some frequently asked questions about arranging a Christening at St Michael’s.
Q. How much does it cost to have my child Christened?
A. A Christening (baptism) is a sign of God’s love and the door to eternal life in Christ. God’s love is a free gift to anyone who will accept it and as such there is no charge for a Christening in this church.
Q. How old must my child be?
A. Age doesn’t matter. Babies, toddlers, young children and teens come to be baptised. In extreme circumstances, if a child’s life is at risk, a baptism can take place immediately after birth.
Q. My parents never got round to having me Christened. Can I still have my child done?
A. Yes! Your child is welcome here. Parents are also welcome to be baptised and are encouraged to discuss the matter with us.
Q. I’m a single parent. Can my child still be baptised at St Michael’s?
A. Yes. God loves your child as much as anybody else’s. All are welcome.
Q. Do I need godparents?
A. Yes. Traditionally a child has three godparents with two being the same sex as the child. If you would like a different number of godparents then let us know.
Q. Who should I choose to be my child’s godparents?
A. That’s really up to you but, we advise you to think carefully and pray about it before you start asking people. The godparents need to realise that they will make a lifelong commitment to teach your child the Christian faith and set a good example in the way they worship and live their lives.
Q. Do godparents need any qualifications?
A. Godparents should understand that they are undertaking a very privileged position and it’s a great honour to be asked. Try to find somebody that you trust and know well. Choose people who are mature and responsible and are likely to keep the promises that they will be asked to make. Choose people who will love your child and who are prepared to spend quality time with them. Please note that Godparents should have been baptised themselves.
Q. What do godparents do?
A. First and foremost a godparent is responsible for bringing your child to faith and does so by being a good example in worship and holy living. In order to do this a godparent needs to be able to publicly acknowledge his/her own Christian faith into which they themselves have been baptised.
Q. Do I need to buy my child any special clothes to wear?
A. It’s not essential. Traditionally small babies have worn white Christening gowns that are sometimes handed down from one generation to another. If you don’t have a gown then other white clothes may be worn instead. Some people choose not to keep this tradition for their child.
Q. Do I need to come to church before the Christening?
A. Yes you do. To begin with we ask you to make a “first visit” after which we will confirm a date and time for your child’s service. Later, on a Sunday before the Christening, you and your child along with the godparents you have chosen will need to attend the 10am Parish Eucharist. At this service (which lasts just over an hour) your child is introduced to the church congregation so that they can pray for your child and celebrate the forthcoming baptism. During the service the priest will pray for your child who will receive a special, individual blessing in preparation for baptism.
Q. Do I have to say anything in front of everyone?
A. Not really other than to tell the priest your child’s name in a loud voice.
Q. What time do you do Christenings?
A. Christenings usually take place during the Parish Eucharist at 10am or at 12 noon on Sundays, you choose which time suits you best. Do make sure that the date and time of the Christening has been agreed and confirmed with the vicar after your first visit before you send out your invitations or book a venue for a party!
Q. Will my child be the only one being Christened?
A. Usually there’s only one child being baptised in a service but on rare occasions there might be more.
Q. What if my baby cries?
A. Don’t worry. We’re a family friendly church and we understand that sometimes children make a noise no matter how hard we try to keep them quiet. Older children are welcome to join the Sunday School and we have toilet facilities and quiet spaces if you need to attend to your child’s needs. Don’t worry – just enjoy yourself!
Q. Can we take photographs?
A. Yes! It’s a celebration so why not film it too?
Q. Will my child receive a certificate?
A. Yes. Every child Christened at St Michael’s receives a certificate and a baptism candle.
Q. Will there be a collection at the service?
A. No, but there will be an opportunity for people to make a donation afterwards towards the upkeep of the building. I hope you and your friends will support us.
Q. What happens after the service?
A. We hope to see more of you. We will keep in touch and invite you and your child to special events. Don’t forget you are always welcome whenever there’s a service going on.
Q. My neighbour’s baby had a naming ceremony. Isn’t a Christening the same thing?
A. It isn’t the same thing. A naming ceremony will not include a blessing or prayers for your child. When somebody is baptised they begin a journey with God and become a member of Christ’s Church. At the Christening we recognise that life is a journey and ask God to travel that journey with your child.
Q. Can we use the church hall for a “do” afterwards?
A. If the hall hasn’t already been booked that day you are welcome to hire it out.
Q. Is it really that easy?
A. Sure is!
Some things to think about…
Many people live good lives that show kindness, love and generosity. These are Christian values but they are not unique to the Christian faith. People of other faiths and people who hold no religious faith are very often good, kind and loving people too.
A person becomes a Christian when they are baptised (in the case of children this is often called “Christening”).
When children are Christened it involves parents and godparents bringing their child to church where water from the font is sprinkled on the child’s head as they share in the washing of Christ and taking on the new life that Jesus gives to all who turn to him.
Occasionally adults come to be baptized too. In the case of adults they can be baptized at the font just like the children or, if feeling a little braver and happy to get really wet they can be baptized by “full emersion” (fully dunked).
Nobody is too young or too old to receive the sacrament of baptism, it is a wonderful gift from God to his Church.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew28:19-20)