What Dads Add (Information and help for fathers)
Christening in the Church of England
What do Christians believe?
A meditation on the Apostles' Creed by Ben Myers
Baptism is a service of welcome into the Christian family. If you are thinking about baptism (sometimes called christening) for your child or for yourself, I hope the information on this page will help. Click here for more about the meaning of Baptism, or scroll down for practical information about the service. Please feel free to phone or email me to talk further.
WHO CAN BE BAPTISED AT SEAL?
If you live within our parish boundaries or are on our electoral roll (church membership roll), your child can be baptised at Seal. If you don't live in our parish we will need to seek the goodwill of your own parish priest first. There is a letter about baptism for those outside the parish, which you can download here. Please contact me first to establish that I am able and willing to conduct the baptism, then visit your own parish priest and ask him or her to sign the form at the bottom of the letter. If you aren't sure where Seal parish boundaries lie I will be happy to advise you. You can find out which parish you live in by entering your postcode into this website.
I encourage people to be baptised in their own parish church. This helps them to build a relationship with other members of that church who live locally, and to be aware of groups and activities which that church organizes to help and support them as they bring up their children. I am happy, however, to baptize children from other parishes if there is a good reason to do so and a real connection with Seal.
Adults and older children can also be baptised – ask me for more information about this if you are interested.
In baptism parents and godparents promise to help their children grow spiritually. Spiritual growth includes learning to love and be loved, to care for others and to develop a sense of wonder and gratitude for the gift of life. Spiritual growth isn’t just about “churchy” things, but being a part of the church community is one way of encouraging children to grow in this way, and baptism involves a commitment to "help them take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church." If you aren't already a regular churchgoer, it's good if you can come to church at least two or three times before your child is baptised if it is at all possible, so that you feel at home here and get a sense of what the church is about.
We welcome children at all our services. There is a special place at the back of the church where they can look at books, or play quietly during services if they get restless. On the first and second Sundays of the month school age children meet in the church hall for their own activities during part of the service. On the third Sunday of the month we have an All-Age service which is especially suitable for families with children. There are toilets in the church hall. We also have occasional (4-5 times per year) "Messy Church" sessions for all ages together - crafts, activities, a bit of very informal worship and cake! These are usually in the church hall on a Sunday afternoon. See here for more detail and dates.
It is recommended that your child should have at least three godparents (traditionally two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex.) However, you don't have to stick to this pattern and can have more than three godparents if you like. To have more than six would be unusual.
Godparents should be adults, or at least older teenagers. A useful rule of thumb is that they need to be old enough to be responsible parents if they are to be responsible godparents. Sometimes I have requests for older brothers or sisters to be godparents, but unless they are adults this is usually not appropriate and I would rather involve them in the service in other ways - for example, holding the candle.
Godparents should be baptised themselves. It is preferable if they are also confirmed, but provided they have considered the promises they are to make carefully, and are happy to make them, I can be flexible about this. Baptism is a good opportunity for both parents and Godparents to think about their own faith and commitment, since both will be making wide-ranging and serious promises during the service. They also share in the ritual of making the sign of the cross on the child's forehead (right), to emphasize their role in helping to bring the child up in the Christian faith.
LONE PARENTS, UNMARRIED OR SAME-SEX COUPLES
Baptism expresses God's love for your child and his unconditional welcome for him or her. We welcome you in the same spirit. Whatever form your family takes we will be delighted to celebrate with you as you bring your child for baptism. If you are separated from your child’s other parent, however, you should think about discussing the baptism with him or her to make sure he or she is happy for it to take place.
TIMES AND DATES
Baptisms can take place either during our main morning service or at another time of day. I am happy to discuss what would be best for you and to be flexible.
WHAT IS THE SERVICE LIKE?
Baptism can take place either during our morning service, or at a separate service at some other time . I am happy to discuss with you which time would suit you best. Other children may be baptised at the same time as yours, whether it takes place in a main Sunday service or at another time.
Click here for a copy of the service leaflet - it folds lengthways into a long A4 sheet, so the service begins in the second column! There are some more pictures taken at a baptism on our church blog here.
Baptism is free. There will be a collection during or after the service, if you and your guests would like to contribute to the running costs of the church, but there is no charge for baptism.
PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
I am happy for photos to be taken discreetly during the service, but it is best if you ask one or two people to do so, rather than having a free for all, otherwise you may find that people are focussing more on taking photos than the service itself. If the baptism takes place during our regular morning service, this is especially important, and we ask you not to take photos which include the regular congregation, especially children, to preserve their privacy, and not to take photos during the distribution of communion.
To book or make enquiries about Baptism at Seal, please phone or email me, The Revd Canon Anne Le Bas (everyone calls me Anne!) –07510 522292 . I will arrange to fill in the paperwork with you and to visit you at home to talk about the service.
SUNDAY WORSHIP AT SEAL
10am and 6.30pm – Come and join us!
The church is normally open every day during daylight hours – drop in at any time.
WHAT IS BAPTISM ABOUT?
Baptism is a very ancient service. It is the way in which people join the church, and it means making promises, setting priorities, and being prepared to let God change you. At its heart, it tells us about four things - Being, Belonging, Believing and Behaving.
There is a passage in the Bible in which God speaks to his people, who are going through difficult times. "Do not be afraid. I have called you by name. You are mine." Although the words are 2500 years old, Christians believe that they still have something to say to us. They tell us that every person is unique and special, known and loved by God.
Think about your child. What do you already know about him/her?
What kind of person is he/she?
What are your hopes and fears for him/her?
Being a Christian means belonging to the family of the church.
Think about the groups you belong to - your family, your workplace, and your community.
Do you like to be in the middle of all that is happening, or do you tend to hover at the edge?
How do you feel about being part of the church? How will you help your child feel that he/she belongs to the Christian family?
At Seal, in addition to our Sunday Worship we also have a number of other opportunities for children and families to get involved in church life. You can find out more about what we have to offer to children and families here. Children are always welcome at all our services and activities. We enjoy having them in our midst. Why not come along and join us?
During the service, you will be making promises both for yourself and for your child.
How much do you know about the beliefs that are important for Christians?
This isn't a test - just some questions to help you know what you think and feel about Christian faith.
What do you think and feel about Christian belief...?
God the Father
Christians believe that God made us and cares about us just as a loving parent would.
How do you feel about your children? That's how God feels about you.
God the Son
Christians believe that Jesus is God, revealing himself in flesh and blood, like us, so that we can know how much God loves us. If you want to know more about Jesus' life, try reading the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Bible. It's not very long, and it gives a vivid picture of Jesus.
God the Holy Spirit.
Christians believe that God is with us here and now, involved in our lives every day. Have you ever felt that God was especially close to you? Where and how did this happen? What effect did it have on you?
There is a brilliant unpacking of the Apostles' Creed, the statement of faith which godparents and parents make during the baptism (along with the rest of the congregation) from Ben Myers here, which you might like to read.
We will talk more about Christian belief when I visit before the Baptism, but please feel free to email or phone me with any questions you may have.
Christians have many different views on moral and ethical issues, but are agreed that faith should affect the whole of our lives – our relationships with each other, our attitudes to time and money, and to the rest of creation, for example. The promises you make at baptism on behalf of your child aren’t just about what you think and feel, but about how you live. You don’t have to be perfect – no one is – but baptism is a good moment to ask yourself what really matters to you, and what values and priorities you want to pass on to your child.
When your child has grown up what do you hope he/she will have learnt from your example?
What are your priorities, and how would people see them in action in your life?