Before a child is baptised or christened (see below) parents and godparents are asked to meet with the priest or members of the local church who will help with preparations, giving careful explanations about what baptism is and concerning the responsibilities of parents and godparents for their child. In Baptism solemn promises are made and it is important that parents and godparents fully understand the depth and significance of these promises. There may be a special course of instruction and a suggestion as to the most appropriate time for the baptism to take place. In the event of a Parish Confirmation taking place it might be suggested that the baptism be part of a wider parish celebration, especially during the Easter Season.
When Baptism and Confirmation take place at the same service it is the Bishop who presides. When Baptism takes place on its own one of the parish clergy will officiate.
The service follows various sections:
- THE GATHERING Where the family is welcomed and told of the special joy of the occasion, both for them and the wider Christian family.
- Parents are asked to accept for their child the belief that in baptism we are reborn as God’s children, made followers of Christ, members of his body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.
- They are asked to help their child to keep God’s commandments in loving God and their neighbour. They are asked to be examples of the Christian way of life for their children.
- Godparents are asked to support the child’s parents throughout in all they try to do. The congregation is asked to welcome the child and to uphold him/her in the life of Christ.
- THE PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD sets the Baptism in the context of the Bible. At the heart of the Christian Faith is that listening to, and pondering on, God’s word in scripture.
- In this part of the service we listen to what the scriptures tell us about the saving work of God in Jesus Christ.
- THE LITURGY OF BAPTISM asks parents and godparents to respond to Christ’s call, turning to Christ, repenting of sin and renouncing evil.
- Here we pray that the child to be baptized will be delivered from evil and, with light and joy, be filled with God’s Holy spirit.
- The child is signed with the Cross – a wonderful moment in which the Church claims him/her for Christ in the power of his love so wonderfully shown on the Cross.
- In response to this parents and Godparents are asked to profess the Christian Faith together, speaking for their child, affirming with the whole Christian family the Faith of the Church in One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The water is blessed with words which recall moments of saving power associated with water in the scriptures, including Jesus’ own baptism in the River Jordan, and we ask God to anoint the child with his Holy Spirit and to bring him/her to new birth in the family of the Church.
- Then the child is baptized with water, and may be anointed with the oil of Chrism as a sign and seal of the Holy Spirit.
- A candle is lit to show that the light of Christ has come into the life of the newly baptized child who is commended to walk in this new light all his/her days, shining out into the world to the glory of God.
- THE PEACE is that part of the service where Christ’s peace is extended to everyone present.
- PRAYERS are offered both for the newly baptized child and for those who have the care of him/her. Prayers may be said for the wider family, giving thanks for the faith and encouragement shown us in our own lives.
- THE SENDING OUT concludes the service in the trust that all of us may live by faith, walk in hope and be renewed in love until the whole world fully reflects God’s glory.