Christenings in ASCaT Parish
Everyone who lives in one of our villages is most welcome to have their baby or child baptised at a Christening in one of our Parish Churches. A Christening is a lovely way to give thanks to God for the life of a new child and to celebrate their arrival; but it is much more than that. It is the way that we become members of God's family and the Church. It is the start of a life of holiness and blessing and the hope of eternal life.
For that reason, it is always in the child's best interest that he or she is baptised in their 'home church', which is normally their local parish church. However, if a family has chosen ASCaT Parish as their habitual place of worship, then we would be only too pleased to baptise the child in one of our churches. Otherwise, we would not expect to baptise a child who does not live within our parish boundaries and we would want to point them in the direction of their own parish priest who will be able to arrange for the Christening to take place in their own church.
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives. This first step is a response to God's love. It is also a celebration and a time to come together with family and friends while remembering that your child is loved by God, is part of a wider community and has a place with God's people. That is why it is important that the Christening takes place in a normal church service.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting your baby or child Christened.
What is the difference between a Baptism and a Christening?
There is no difference between a Christening service and a Baptism service. Babies are baptised during a Christening service just as couples are married during a wedding service.
Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes. So long as they have not been baptised previously. The Church of England welcomes an babies, children and families for Christenings - whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. Neither do you have to be a regular churchgoer - as parents you do not even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome in our churches and those who live in Albourne, Sayers Common or Twineham are entitled to be baptised in one of our churches.
How much does a Christening service cost?
The good news is that a Christening service is free. There may be costs for your party afterwards, for gifts or for Christening robes but the servie is free!
Where can we hold the Christening?
You can have your baby Christened at any of our three parish churches and the baptism forms part of the main Sunday service. In very exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to have the Christening at a particular parish church at 12.30 on a Sunday when there is not normally a 10am service at that Church.
The pattern of the 10am service is 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays at Christ Church, Sayers Common; 2nd Sunday at St. Bartholomew's, Albourne and 4th Sundays at St. Peter's, Twineham.
How do I arrange a Christening?
Please email Julie Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will then email you the necessary form and make an appointment for you to meet the Reverend taking the service in the church on the mutually agreed day of the christening - normally after a Sunday service.
How old should my child be?
You can have your baby or child Christened at any age. There is no upper age limit, but after the age of 7 your child may be able to make the promises for themselves. Please discuss this with Rev'd James if it is the case.
What happens in the service?
Your baby's Christening will take place just after the sermon. The members of the congregation, Godparents and parents will all make promises on behalf of the baby, which the child may choose to confirm for themselves at a Confirmation service later in life. Water will be blessed and poured on the baby's head - this is the baptism of your baby (the word baptism means to be immersed in water). The baby will be signed with the Cross and a special oil may be used for this. A candle or other gift from the church may be given and prayers will be offered for the baby and the family.
What about Godparents?
Godparents are some of the most important people at the Christening. They are not the people who will care for your child should anything happen to you. Arrangements for this should be made separately in a Will. Rather, they should be poeple who will be there for your child and help them to think about the bigger questions in life: questions of love, hope and faith. They should be able to be good Christian role models for your child as they grow up.
Godparents must be baptised themselves and be old enough to make some serious promises on behalf of the child.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR GODPARENTS
What does being a Godparent involve?
As a Godparent you have a special role. It's about helping a child to come to know God, encouraging them in the spiritual life and supporting them in their membership of the local Church. You need to be at the Christening where you will make promises to help bring them up in the Christian faith. It's a role that will grow over time as your Godchild grows up and develops in their own faith.
Is it a big responsibility?
It is. Have a look at some of the questions you will answer in the service: Do you reject the Devil and all rebellion against God? Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth, the life? Don't be scared by these questions, remember that the Church is always there to support you in your role as Godparent.
Do I have to be a regular churchgoer?
Being asked to be a Godparent is a good opportunity to think about your own faith. You don't need to go to church every Sunday, but worship should be part of your life. Godparents must have been baptised themselves and it's best if you are also confirmed. Baptism or Confirmation preparation can help you with your own questions about the Christian faith. It will also help you support your Godchild in their own faith. If you have any questions, why not talk to your local Vicar or another Christian you know?
Does being a Godparent mean I am a legal guardian as well?
No. Your role as a Godparent is a spiritual one - to encourage and pray for your Godchild. Being a legal guardian is separate from being a Godparent.
What should I give as a Christening present?
The most important gift you can give a Godchild is your time, your interest and your prayers. You may want to mark the Baptism by giving a special gift. You don't have a spend a fortune, a simple meaningful present is the best choice. Ideas include:
A Bible - either an edition with pictures and simple words which are suitable for children or a more mature edition which they will use throughout their life. You might choose a simple edition to give at Baptism and a more adult version when they reach confirmation.
Bible story books - there are lovely illustrated books of Bible stories for children - some come with prayers included.
Books of prayers - there are many designed especially for children.
A gold or silver Cross and chain - to be worn in the future
A small wooden Cross
What happens in the service?
At the Baptism itself, the Vicar will ask the parents and Godparents to bring the child to the front of the Church or to gather around the font. Before the baby is baptised, the vicar will ask you to declare that you intend to do your best as a Godparent. The vicar asks you to say that you are 'prepared to walk with the child in the way of Christ' and will help them to take their place in the Church.
How will I remember what happened?
The church may give you a special card to remind you of the Baptism and the promises you have made. Keep it somewhere you will see it every day, so you remember your Godchild and ask God to bless them each day. Remember to keep in touch, take time to visit your Godchild, to get to know them, have fun and pray with and for them.
What do I do next?
Both you and your Godchild will get more out of your relationship if you keep it alive. Children love to get letters, postcards, emails and text messages. Why not send a small gift on the anniversary of their Baptism to show you care about this special relationship? Keep in touch and as they grow older they may be able to ask you questions about their life and faith. That's really special.
What is Confirmation?
Hopefully, later on your Godchild will want to make their own declaration of faith at a confirmation service. At a confirmation service they will confirm that promises you made for them at Baptism. IT's a very special time for both of you.
How do I pray for my Godchild and for myself?
Take a few moments to remember your Godchild. You might like to light a candle or look at a photograph. Here are two prayers which you might find useful:
Lord God, I pray that you will guide and help me in being a Godparent. Give me your wisdom and your love. Help me to be a good example of Christian living and help me remember my precious Godchild, [name]. Amen
Heavenly Father, thank you for the precious gift of [name] and for all the joy that they bring us. Be with them in their journey through life so that they may come to know our Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Friend. Amen