In the Church of England people can be baptised at any age. Those who are able to speak for themselves follow a course of instruction and are baptised and confirmed in the same service at which the Bishop presides and during which they also take Holy Communion for the first time. If this applies to you, please speak to the Rector.
Those who are too young to speak for themselves are brought by parents and godparents who make decisions and promises on their behalf and commit themselves to encourage the child to grow in faith and in due course to come forward for confirmation and Holy Communion.
Baptisms are traditionally also occasions to give thanks to God for his gift of life and to invite family and friends to celebrate with the new parents. If you live in the parish and would like a family celebration without entering into the commitments associated with Baptism, the Church of England offers a Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child service which can take place outside the main services of the church, e.g. on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. If you're interested in this, please speak to the Rector. Such a service may be preliminary to a Baptism at a later stage.
Baptism itself marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from all selfishness and evil, turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. People are baptised in their parish church or the church they regularly attend. Baptism takes place during a principal act of worship so that the local church family can welcome its new member. At St Mary's, the Rector offers baptism seminars at various times which parents are expected to attend. Godparents are very welcome to attend as well and may be specifically asked to do so, if they are not confirmed. Baptisms usually take place during the main service on the third Sunday of the month. Due to the size of the church we are rarely able to accommodate more than two baptism families in the same service.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Can I have my baby baptised at St Mary's?
Anyone may apply for their child to be baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church if they live in the parish of Monken Hadley or regularly attend worship here.
How do I arrange a Baptism?
Pick up a baptism booklet from the back of the church and fill in the questionnaires (one for each parent) and the baptism enquiry form. Hand the completed booklet to the parish priest who will then get in touch with you about the next steps.
Do I have to be a Christian to bring my child for Baptism?
In the past the Christian faith and commitment of the godparents was decisive but today parents are expected to enter the same commitments as godparents. If in good conscience only one parent can make the promises during the service, the other parent should not be expected to do so but is of course very welcome to attend the service. If the parent who is not a Christian, or unsure about their Christian faith, objects to baptism, a Thanksgiving service may be a suitable alternative.
What are suitable godparents?
A child must have one godfather and one godmother and usually has a third godparent of the same sex as the child. They are not legal custodians; their parenting role is specifically related to bringing up the child in the Christian faith and encourage the child to come forward to confirmation in due course. They obviously have to be baptised Christians themselves and the best godparents are those with a mature Christian commitment and faith. If you have such godparents in mind who for one reason or another are not themselves confirmed, speak to the Rector. If you struggle to find suitable godparents, we hope to be able to help you find some.
What does baptism cost?
The local church carries the costs in terms of administration and materials and support of ministry so that there are no charges for those who come forward for baptism. In some ways of course, baptism costs your life, as the baptised no longer belong to themselves but to Christ, and we hope that this finds expression in support of the local church.