First steps on an amazing journey
Every child is precious to his or her family, and precious to God. We want the very best for them, and so does God. We want them to make right choices in life, for themselves and for others.
At St Mary’s we are delighted to share with parents in giving thanks for their child, praying for them and helping them grow as individuals. The Christening or Thanksgiving services that we hold are:
- a sign that God loves children, including when they are too young to respond to him for themselves and that he wants to be involved in their life
- to thank God for the child and for family life
- to pray for the child, that they will grow up to know God’s love and in due course choose for themselves to be Christians
- for the child and their family to join the worldwide Christian Church and the church community here at St Mary’s, and to express their intention to involve the church in helping them bring up their child to know and love God, and to know about the Christian faith
- to pray for the family in the important task of parenthood.
Because people can be at different stages in their spiritual journey we offer two kinds of service, reflecting different levels of commitment to the Christian faith and to the church. Both occasions are wonderful celebrations. Each of these services and what they entail are described below.
A service of baptism
We welcome to baptism all those living in the parish. We welcome babies for baptism, but you or your child can be baptised at any age.
A baptism service involves water and a formal public declaration by the parents of trust and faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to follow him. Through the act of baptism the child joins the Church and becomes a member of the church community here in Hardwick. St Mary’s will therefore become an important community for the spiritual growth and nurture of the child, and we’ll do what we can to get to know the child and his or her family and find out how we can help.
Baptisms often take place in a main Sunday morning all-age service, at which children are present and which usually takes place once a month. Or we can arrange to hold a service of baptism in church on a Sunday afternoon, for the family and their guests, and then they are invited to a ‘normal’ church service at 9.30am on a Sunday soon afterwards to be formally welcomed into the church community.
Baptism and belonging to St Mary’s
Christian baptism is a commitment to bring up a child within the Christian community, and to encourage him or her to grow in Christian faith. The words of the service ask the parents to state that they are ready to do this. They are expected to offer this encouragement by bringing the child to Sunday church or to ‘Tuesday Mornings at St Mary’s’ and by a commitment to regular Christian prayer and worship. We will do all we can to help in this.
Baptism for those who live outside the parish
If a family lives outside the parish, but has strong links with the village, we will be happy to consider baptism. However, they must also make contact with the minister of their local parish church to ensure that they are happy for the baptism to take place here, and to allow the development of links, such as described in the previous paragraph, with their own parish church. It may make more sense if the child and his or her parents are formally welcomed into their local church after the baptism rather than into St Mary’s.
Baptism and godparents
During the baptism service godparents make a commitment to support parents in bringing up the child in the practice and knowledge of the Christian faith. This is is an exciting but sometimes challenging task and so we ask that parents think carefully about who to ask be a godparent. They should be people who will take seriously the commitment to pray for the child and pass on the Christian faith. They should be baptized themselves and regular attenders at church. If it is difficult to think of someone appropriate to ask, we would be very happy to make suggestions of members of St Mary’s who would be happy to provide this support. If there are ideal candidates who are not baptised themselves, we would be happy to discuss baptism with them, or we could welcome them formally as supporters of the parents and the child.
Baptism and confirmation for yourself as a parent
We can only pass on to our children what we have ourselves. If either parent is not baptised (and there is no age limit for it!), or were baptised as a child but have not confirmed your faith as an adult, we will be very happy to talk through with them what is involved in this. Most of our churches run courses from time to time about the basics of the Christian faith for those with questions or who want to find out more. Please ask the minister if you are interested.
A service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child
If a family would like to thank God for the gift of a new child, but are not sure about Christian faith or how they feel about the responsibilities involved in baptism, we are happy to conduct a special service of thanksgiving for a child. This is a service:
- to celebrate the gift of a child and to thank God for him or her
- for the parents to make a commitment to the child
- to pray for the child and his or her parents.
We will give the family a children’s bible, parents make a commitment to the child, and they and the child are prayed for but there is no formal commitment to the Christian faith or to bringing the child to church regularly .
A service of thanksgiving often takes place in the main Sunday morning service but can take place at another time or another venue.
If uncertain what to do some families choose to have a service of thanksgiving and follow it with a service of baptism at a later date.
There lots more information on the Church of England’s Christenings website.
If you’d like to discuss either of these services for you or your child, then do contact Alison or the St Mary’s team.