The History of Baptisms On the Day: the parents bring their baby, and godparents if there are any, to the morning service, when about 15 minutes of the service is devoted to 2000 years ago, around the time of Jesus, baptism was for adults only, and this ceremony of Baptism. The parents are asked to make three promises was by total immersion in the river. Baptism became the sign of drowning about bringing up the child in the Christian faith. Water is then splashed the old life and starting again, with sins washed away, pure and clean and on the baby’s head, three times, (in the name of the Father, the Son, and holy, born again - the sign of changing from a heathen or unholy lifestyle the Holy Spirit), as a symbol of the river-water used originally. There are to become a Christian, a follower of Christ. Obviously a baby is unable to other prayers and readings from the bible, of course, and the rest of the make decisions like that. morning’s service continues with hymns, talk, etc. However, it was not long before keen Christian parents wanted to be sure After the service: the parents continue to bring up the child in the that their children were part of this. They argued that their baby would be Christian faith, by their own example, and hopefully by coming to brought up with all the prayers and bible reading and worshipping God appropriate church services now and again. The Church also accepts its with the other Christians, who in those days were all devoted to their Lord responsibility in keeping in touch with the child and its parents. in spite of much persecution. So the child would know no other and would Eventually it is hoped that the child will accept the Christian faith for be bound to grow up into the Christian faith so they might as well baptise itself, at which time they may be “confirmed” and fully become members them as babies. of the church, usually as a young adult. The tradition spread with the good news of Jesus Christ even to our part of the world. Christianity became the faith of the vast majority of people and THANKSGIVING CEREMONY FOR A BABY almost all babies were baptised in church and brought up in the faith, so A Service of Thanksgiving is more appropriate for parents who have a the baptism of adults was rarely necessary. deep respect for God, and would like to thank Him for the gift of their That was fine whilst the children were actually being brought up in the child, and ask His blessing upon the child, but who do not wish to make Christian faith, but in this century, it is no longer true. Most parents are promises about bringing up their child within the Christian faith. not committed to Christ and are not actively involved in churches, so the On the Day: the parents bring their baby, and godparents if there are any, original reasons for baptising their children have disappeared. Yet the to the morning service, when about 15 minutes of the service is devoted to tradition is deeply ingrained and still valued. this ceremony of Thanksgiving. There are prayers for this child and Many churches (like ours) have therefore taken a long hard look at their his/her parents and family, and the bible story of Jesus welcoming parents policy for receiving babies in church. Our church now provides two and babies. The minister holds the child and asks God’s blessing. Water is possibilities: Thanksgiving and Baptism. not used because this would confuse this Thanksgiving with a Baptism. The service continues with the usual hymns, readings, talk, etc. After the Day: no pressure is put on the family to continue to attend this BAPTISM OF INFANTS church, though like anybody else they will be made very welcome. In the service of Infant Baptism a young child is welcomed into the church, but it is the parents who make promises about bringing their child up in a Christian way. It is, therefore, assumed that the parents have some faith in God and Jesus. This may be expressed by attending Church, but not always. Other Options for either Baptism or Thanksgiving: Often a lighted candle is presented to the parents or godparents, as a symbol of Jesus Thanksgiving for a baby? Christ being the Light of the World. A card of welcome to the church is usually signed by the minister, and may be passed round the congregation for all to sign as a memento of the occasion. The parents are encouraged to choose one of the hymns or bible readings. or Baptism? Godparents: Godparents are optional, and though not usual in the case of Services of Thanksgiving it is not impossible. Families have a simple guide various traditions of how many there should be. For a Baptism, the godparents ought to help the child develop their Christian faith, but in any case the godparent’s role is like a friend/aunt/uncle who will take special interest in the child, throughout their life. Introduction Certificates: for Baptism, a certificate is usually presented. Up until a few years ago, when Occasionally such certificates are required say for entrance to a church parents brought their baby to church to “be school, or to get married in certain churches. For Thanksgivings there done”, they were offered a christening, (or is the Welcome Card, and in case of query a brief letter from the baptism, as it is more properly called). There minister has been sufficient to reassure church school headteachers. was no other choice. Nowadays there are other options at some churches: Thanksgivings, Cost: there is no fee for Thanksgiving or Baptism, but during the Blessings, Dedications, as well as the service there will be a collection to which you may contribute as much traditional Baptism. It’s all a matter of finding or as little as you like for the work of God. what’s the most appropriate for each family. At our church we offer either Thanksgiving or How to arrange a Thanksgiving or Baptism for your child: just contact Baptism. This leaflet is designed to explain the minister: Rev. W Arthur Harbottle, tel 01405 812101, who will be what each is all about. pleased to discuss the matter with you further.
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