Infant baptism and thanksgiving (dedication)
Anyone can get in touch with us about having their child baptised. It’s the start of an amazing journey of faith for your child and a special day for all your friends and family. If you are not sure this would be the right step, and would prefer your son or daughter decided on this when they were older, you would be equally welcome to have a service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child.
For further information, please click on one or more of the following:
- Having you child baptised – what does it mean?
- What happens in the baptism service?
- Choosing godparents
- Being a godparent
- Service of Thanksgiving for the birth of a child
Background to Christian Initiation
The earliest practices of the Church are inevitably shrouded from us, but the most usual account goes like this: In the ancient Church there was one ceremony whereby people were able to join the Church. At sunrise on Easter Day, the initiates were taken to a river, or the sea, or a nearby body of water. They were immersed in the water three times – in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. After this ‘Baptism’ part of the service, they were led out of the water to kneel before the Bishop’s throne. He would lay hands on each one, placing his hands upon the tops of their heads. He would then confirm the presence of the Holy Spirit with them, and they would step away from him, as newly confirmed members of their local churches, but also of the wider Church, the Universal, or Catholic Church.
As the Church developed, the service, I have just described no longer fitted in with the needs of the times. The fear of Hell gripped both the clergy and the laity. For adults, Initiation into the church was delayed for as long as possible. This was because the doctrine of the day had it that if you sinned after you were initiated, then you increased your chances of going to Hell substantially. This fear of Hell moved in the opposite direction as well. Parents wanted their children to be baptised as early as possible. This was because of the high mortality of children in ancient times and since, up until the twentieth century. If a child died before it was baptised, the fear was that it would go straight to hell, or at best go to some ill-defined limbo.
The outcome of this dual pressure on the Church led to a wrenching apart of this one service into two. The first part of the service became Baptism, usually as a child, and the second part became Confirmation. The minimum age for Confirmation became stabilised as eleven or twelve years old. And this is the situation today.
Growing numbers of adults have never been baptised themselves and now would like to explore the Christian faith and what the committment of baptism means.
Please contact the church here and let us know how we can help.