Baptisms & Christenings

Thank you for thinking about the baptism of your child! Baptism, or Christening, is a celebration, a welcoming of a new person into the Church community. You can be baptised at any age, but for babies, it’s the parents who decide to give their child the gift of Christianity, a gift that will provide joy and solace, and last a lifetime. Before baptising your child, we ask that you think about it carefully. Baptism is just the beginning of your child’s Christian life – how will it continue?

You might like to start with this short prayer:

Great God, we thank you from our hearts for our child.
We thank you for this precious gift and for the love and wonder s/he has already brought into our world. Give us your love and strength to be the best parents we can be, and please bless our child, now and always, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

You can contact us if you would like to talk about it, or you may find that most of your questions about baptism are answered below. 

Sally McRobie

If you have any questions or would like more information please get in touch.

 

Should I baptise my baby?

The decision whether you have your child baptised (or not) is yours.
We do not decide for you, nor ever refuse to baptise a baby.
What we do ask is that you think about what baptism involves, before making a final decision and before planning the date for the baptism service.

Perhaps this is a time at which lots of different expectations are on you and difficult decisions are asked of you.
You might like to use this prayer (if you prefer, replace us with me):

Loving God,
help us to decide how to mark the birth of our child.
Help us to know what to do about baptism.
Please give us your wisdom to deal with difficult decisions and the expectations of others.
Give us good friends and be yourself a friend to us/me,
in Jesus Christ our Brother and Lord. Amen.

When can my baby be baptised?

At Hexham Abbey we baptise children as part of one of our regular Sunday services, so the congregation can welcome your child into our Christian community. There may be one or two other children being baptised on the same day, so it will be helpful to know how many guests you will be inviting to the service.

When you contact us about arranging a baptism, we will invite you to a Baptism Preparation Morning where you can meet one of the clergy, and arrange a date.

Baptism is free, but a collection is made during the service and we are grateful for any donations.

We now have a suite of function rooms available at Hexham Abbey to accommodate Christening parties. We would be delighted to help with your arrangements. Click here for details

Why baptise children?

The first Christians made the choice themselves, as adults, to be baptised. Then, as they had families, they baptised their children because they knew they were bringing them up to share this faith and belong to the church – the community of believers in Jesus.

So, baptising children who cannot speak for themselves makes sense when parents belong to the church. That’s why the baptism part of the service begins with the minister addressing the whole congregation:

‘Faith is the gift of God to his people.
In baptism the Lord is adding to our number those whom he is calling.
People of God, will you welcome these children and uphold them in their new life in Christ?’
And the congregation says: With the help of God, we will.

The minister then says to the parents and godparents:
‘Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?’
And the congregation says: With the help of God, we will.

‘In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?’
And the congregation says: With the help of God, we will.

What is the benefit of baptism for my baby?

Baptism is about belonging; belonging to God and to the church community.
 Baptism means that you and the church take on responsibilities for your child. As they grow up, they will need the help and encouragement of the Christian community, so that they may learn to know God in public worship and private prayer, follow Jesus Christ in the life of faith, serve their neighbour after the example of Christ and in due course come to confirmation.

As part of the Church of Christ, we all have a duty to support them by prayer, example and teaching. As their parents and godparents, you have the prime responsibility for guiding and helping them in their early years. This is a demanding task for which you will need the help and grace of God.

What about godparents?

The role of a godparent is to help your child grow into Christian faith and life, through their prayers, example, teaching, and encouragement (for example, by giving gifts that will help your child pray and understand more about Jesus).

In the baptism service, the minister says:
‘Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?’

And the parents and godparents says: With the help of God, we will.

It is important to make sure that godparents understand what they are being asked to do and that they are comfortable with it. You might have good friends or people in your family who you hope will become good friends to your child, but they may not share Christian beliefs. They might be put into a difficult position if you ask them to become godparents. So you’d do them a favour by thinking about this before you ask them to be a godparent.

Checklist for godparents:

  • godparents do have to be baptised themselves.
  • there should be between two and four godparents – it’s up to you.
  • having the right sort of person is more important than whether they are male or female
  • being a godparent is not the same thing as being a legal guardian (though some people may be both)
  • They must be over the age of 16

Your child’s spiritual journey

Everyone is on a spiritual journey in their lives. During this journey, all sorts of things can happen. For instance:

  • sometimes you can feel very close to God
  • sometimes you wonder where on earth God is in all this
  • sometimes you really grow in your understanding of God
  • sometimes you forget about God completely.

Baptism is not the destination but the beginning of a spiritual journey.

In the baptism service, you promise to put up plenty of signposts in your child’s life so that on her/his journey she or he can learn about God in Jesus.

If you think this sounds like too much of a challenge, there are plenty of excellent books and online resources to help parents. We can point you in the right direction.

Do I have to come to church every Sunday?

No, you don’t have to every Sunday – but the promises you say do include that you will draw your child by your example into the community of faith. How do you plan to do this? Coming to church helps you get to know the people there better. After all, baptism is about belonging to the church. You’ll find all different sorts of people there.
 So we recommend that you come to services. You might like the more informal all-age ones we have once a month. Click here for further information.

Alternative to baptism?

If you don’t feel comfortable with all the promises associated with baptism, there is an alternative. We also offer a Service of Thanksgiving and Blessing of a Child. This can take place in church or at home. In it, we give thanks to God for the child and pray for God’s help as we bring him or her up. You don’t have to say the involved promises. The service can be a first step on the road to baptism or stand alone for now.