Baptism - Your Questions Answered

Baptism is often called 'christening' although at Emmanuel we prefer the term baptism because it’s the term the Bible uses, added to which ‘christening’ could give the misleading impression that we are making your child a Christian in the act of baptism. Getting a child baptised doesn't make them a Christian - that is a decision your child will have to make for him or herself once they are older. If you are thinking of having a child baptised, the first thing to do is to start coming to church.

Why come to Church?

           Coming to church won't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage would turn you into a car, but if you're thinking of having a child baptised, it's important to come to church for a number of reasons.
  1. It's good practice. In the baptism service you will promise to bring your child to church and be part of the church family with them. It would be silly to make you promise to come to church after your child's baptism if that wasn’t your practice before it.
  2. It helps you understand the baptism service and the promises you make. Coming to church will help you make sense of what it means to be a Christian and what is involved.
  3. It helps you get to know us. Baptism is partly about bringing a child into the church family. You will want to know whether ours is a church family that you want yourself and your child to be part of.
  4. It helps us to get to know you. In the baptism service the whole church family promises that they will welcome your child and pray for them. That is hard for them to do if they have never met you!

Where and When?

Our main services for baptism  are at 9:30 and 11am on a Sunday. There are Crèches for 0 - 3s. The crèche is manned so that you can leave your child with trained and responsible helpers whilst you enjoy the service. Our only condition is that you pick the child up at the end of the service! We ask that you commit to coming along to services for a couple of months to help you get a feel for things.

What next?

Our standard practice for all those who would like a child baptised is to spend a few weeks with us looking at the central claims of Jesus Christ in a very informal way. We do this as a five week course called Christianity Explored. There will be a meal, a short talk from the Bible and then a chance to discuss what we’ve heard in groups. No question is too hostile or awkward and many find it to be a good way to examine the Christian faith as a couple in an honest way. We ask you to do this because the Bible says baptism is a sign that is given to Christian parents and their children. We do not want to make hypocrites of you and ask you to make promises from the front of church during the baptism service that you do not mean. Christianity Explored therefore gives you a chance to work out whether or not you believe what you’ll be declaring in the baptism service.

Once you’ve finished Christianity Explored and are happy that the baptism service represents your own convictions about Jesus, John Adams (one of the Curates at Emmanuel) will arrange to come and see you at home for an hour or so. This will be a good opportunity just to look at one or two Bible passages about baptism and what it means as well as to discuss the practicalities of the baptism itself. It’s at this stage that a date can be set for the baptism.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Parents’ Responsibility?

When children are baptised, their parents are asked to declare their own Christian faith and to raise the child with a clear understanding of the Christian message. They should also encourage them to become an active member of the church family.

What is the Function of Godparents?

To be a Godparent is a privilege, a responsibility and a challenge. Godparents make the same promises as do the child's parents. They declare their own belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ and promise that, by prayer and example, they will lead their Godchild into the same faith. As such we ask that all Godparents can say their oaths during the baptism service with integrity. We are not in the habit at Emmanuel of making hypocrites of people so a careful choice needs to be made.

The Church of England requires that all Godparents are themselves baptised. It also stipulates that there needs to be at least two Godparents of the same sex as your child plus at least one of the opposite sex. There is no limit to the number of Godparents your child can have. It should be a minimum of three. Thus a girl would usually have two Godmothers and one Godfather and a boy one Godmother and two Godfathers.

What will we be asked to say & do in the baptism service?

The wording of the baptism service most commonly used at Emmanuel can be found here - Click Here

Does Everyone Need to do Christianity Explored?

For the reasons given above it is our standard practice at Emmanuel to ask you to do this as a couple.

What if only one of the Child’s Parents are Christians?

Many parents in this situation worry that they are somehow not able to have a baptism or that their child’s baptism will be second class in some way. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that baptism is to take place in the context of faith and that one believing parent is certainly enough for their upbringing to be distinctively Christian. However, it may be that on the day of the baptism it’s right for the unbelieving spouse to stay silent during the oaths as a matter of integrity. There will be plenty of time in the baptism preparation sessions to discuss this further and to look at the key Biblical texts.

Can we have our child baptised in a different venue?

Because biblically children are baptised into a church family we are unable to perform baptisms anywhere but Emmanuel. Your child will be raised in the Emmanuel family and we want to ensure the church family are the ones who commit themselves and pledge themselves publically to supporting and nurturing your child’s faith as he or she grows up.

What if we’re not regular members at church?

Again, because the child is to be baptised into the church family, any children baptised at Emmanuel need their parents to be regular members.

What if as parents of the child we’re not married?

At Emmanuel we welcome everyone on Sundays without discrimination. The Bible does say, though, that one of the marks of following Jesus sincerely is a desire to live the kind of life He commands. This would show itself, amongst other things, in a couple being married if they are living together and have children together. Our policy is therefore not to baptise the children of unmarried parents.

What are my other options beyond Emmanuel?

While we’d love to baptise your child, we do recognise that you may want to explore other options as well. Legally in the Church of England people are entitled to have a child baptised in the church of the parish in which they live. You can find the parish church for your area here.
Isobel Hill, 04/11/2011