What is Baptism?

                                                    

In infant baptism, parents are thanking God for his gift of life, making a decision to start their child on the journey of faith and asking for the Church's support.

Baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from all that is evil, turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.

Baptism is a 'sacrament' a visible sign of God's love. In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from selfishness and evil and to accept God’s offer of a new start.

 

What happens during the service?

Baptism normally takes place on the third Sunday of the month during the main Sunday service. This is so that those baptised can be seen to be joining the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. In turn the Church family will promise to support and pray for them.

Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in, some will be for the parents and the godparents.

The baptism part of the service will normally take place at the front of the church, and for the baptism itself, parents and godparents are usually asked by the minister to gather around the font. (The font is a large basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)

The priest will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child.

 

Making decisions and promises.

In bringing a child to baptism, parents and godparents are asked to declare publicly on behalf of the child that they believe in God and that they will bring up the child  to follow Jesus.

They are asked to declare, on the child's behalf, that they have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and instead to turn towards Christ.

The declarations made will be made in front of the church congregation; the local Christian community will promise to support and pray for the child and its family.

 

Symbols and actions used during the service.

A number of important symbols and actions will be used during the service itself:

The sign of the cross - the minister will make the sign of the cross on the child's forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.

The minister says:

Christ claims you for his own.

Receive the sign of his cross.

Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.

The minister may also invite parents and godparents to sign the cross on the child's forehead after he has done so.

 

Water - the minister will pour water on the child's head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.

Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptised, it is as though our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.

The minister says:

May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church,

pour upon you the riches of his grace,

that within the company of Christ's pilgrim people

you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit,

and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory.

 

The welcome - the church congregation will say some words of welcome to acknowledge that the child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have a new member.

A Candle - Jesus is the Light of the World.  A large candle is lit in the church and parents are also given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the new light which has come into the child's life.

It is the responsibilty of  the parents, godparents and the church community to help the child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light and shares this light with others.

 

The role of godparents

Godparents make the same promises as parents on behalf of the child being baptised.  Godparents promise to pray for and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.

Godparents can be family members or friends. However, it is important to choose people who will take an interest in the child's spiritual welfare and who will pray for them.  Godparents must themselves be baptised.

 

Thanksgiving Service

Alternatively, parents may wish to ask about a service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. In this service, we say thank you to God for the gift of a child and the child is blessed.

If a Thanksgiving Service is chosen, a Baptism service for the child can take place at a later date.

 

If you wish to be baptised at St. John's or to have your child baptised, please see "Contact Us" page. 

[Please be aware that, often, we have a waiting list, as baptisms usually take place within the service on the 2nd Sunday of the month.]