If you have recently had a baby may we sincerely congratulate you on his or her safe arrival. The Church of England offers two different Services to parents at the birth of a child: the service of Thanksgiving, and the service of Baptism, commonly called Christening.
Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child
The Service of Thanksgiving is a special occasion to thank God for your child and to pray for him or her. During the service, there can be a hymn, a Bible reading and a short talk. The most important part of the service is when the minister receives the baby in his/her arms, just us Jesus did. The minister then does several things:
Before God and before the congregation (s)he names the child;
She/he says a prayer of thanks to God for the child and for their safe birth;
She/he prays for protection of the child;
She/he prays for the child’s parents and for their home;
She/he asks for God to bless the child.
This service takes place on a Sunday during the main service.
The difference that people usually notice is that there is no water, because, of course, it is not a service of Baptism. On the other hand, there is no obligation on the parents to be members of the church or attend it regularly. A Certificate of Thanksgiving is given to say that the service has taken place.
The child is then free to make up his or her own mind later whether to be baptised or not. There is no fee for a service of Thanksgiving.
The service of Baptism is one in which the parents and the godparents stand up in church on a Sunday and make clear statements about their Christian faith.
They must say that they “turn to Christ “, that they “repent of their sins”, and that they “renounce evil “. They must also say that they believe and trust in God the Father who made the world, in Jesus Christ who redeemed mankind, and in His Holy Spirit who helps the people of God.
The parents declare they have a strong commitment to follow Jesus and live each day by His teachings, praying often to Him and trusting Him for everything. They are promising to teach their children to do the same and to be an example in this to them. They are taking on a duty to bring their child to church and to be part of the church.
These declarations should not be made without serious thought beforehand. Parents who wish to have their children baptised must either be members of the church family or signify their commitment by meeting with the Rector for a preparation session. It is also desirable that they regularly attend church.
We are delighted to baptise all babies who reside in the parishes of Ellingham, Geldeston, Gillingham, Kirby Cane and Stockton on request.