People are sometimes unclear about the meaning of the terms Baptism and Christening. In fact they mean exactly the same thing.
Adults (and older children) who are seeking Baptism may be baptized and confirmed in a special service held locally. There is a time of preparation. Candidates are required to attend a course of instruction which could include attending an Alpha Course or similar introduction to the Christian Faith.
Right: the former Bishop of Horsham baptizing an adult at a service in St Michael's Church. Thanks to Kay Martin for the photo.
Infants are baptized on the basis of their parents' and godparents' faith and Church membership. It is done on the understanding that they will help the child to grow in the Christian Faith and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church. In the Baptism Service, the parents and godparents are asked to state publicly that they are willing to do these things for the child. They are also required to state publicly a decision to turn away from evil and follow Christ.
Who may have their child baptized at St Michael's?
To have your child baptized at St Michael's, you must either live in St Michael's parish or normally attend St Michael's Church (including Messy Church). Also, the parents must be baptized themselves. If one parent has not been baptized, he or she must be consenting to the Baptism.
See if you live in St Michael's parish
Before applying for Baptism for the child, however, parents and godparents should ask themselves:
- Are you prepared to the best of your ability to give the child a Christian upbringing within the family of Christ's Church?
- Will you help the child to be regular in public worship and in prayer, not only by your teaching but also by your example and your prayers?
- Will you encourage the child in due time to come to Confirmation and Communion?
It is usual to have three godparents, two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex, but to have one godfather and one godmother is sufficient.
Parents may be godparents to their own children, provided that the child has at least one other godparent.
Church law requires that godparents should be baptized and confirmed, but the requirement of confirmation can be relaxed in certain cases.
How do I apply?
Either contact the churchwardens or, even better, come to the Parish Eucharist one Sunday at 10 am. The first Sunday of the month is a specially good time to do this. You will be asked also to attend a Messy Church session. Click this Messy Church link to find out more, including the date of the next session
The usual times for baptisms are the first and third Sundays each month, at the 10 am Parish Eucharist or at 12 noon.
Beginning of a journey with God
Pastoral Introduction to the Baptism Service from Common Worship (The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England 2000 - 2004)
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God's love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ's death for us. Our 'drowning' in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ's dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus' baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
As you pray for the candidates, picture them with yourself and the whole Church throughout the ages, journeying into the fullness of God's love.