BAPTISMS AT ST MARY'S

We are delighted to hear that you’re interested in helping your child take the first steps on a lifelong journey of faith.

This guide below is a helpful starting point for you. Some information has been taken from the Church of England’s own website about christenings, which you can find at www.churchofenglandchristenings.org/for-parents/ but other details are specific to St Mary’s, North Mymms.

Baptism, sometimes called Christening, is a specifically Christian "rite of initiation". In other words, through our baptism we receive God's blessing and are welcomed into the world-wide family of God's Church, onto a life-long journey of faith, commitment and loving relationship; and that is what we celebrate during the service.

Baptism is the first step of faith – a response to God's love, marking the beginning of a journey with God that continues for the rest of our lives.

Baptism is a sign, first of all, of God's love and commitment to his people. The Bible teaches that, despite our rejection of God, God still loves us. He sent his son Jesus into the world to be our Saviour, and longs to bring his life and healing to every single person.

Baptism is also a sign of our commitment to God. In the service we declare that we turn to Christ - an indication that we are willing to centre our lives on Jesus, following his teaching and example.

Bringing a child for baptism therefore represents a definite commitment to Christ and to the local church. We believe that these promises should not be made lightly, and although we want to encourage people to be baptised, we want to make sure that parents and Godparents understand how important these are.

During a christening your child will be baptised with water. 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 choose to have your child baptised at St Mary’s, we’ll spend more time explaining this during the preparation session.

If you live within the parish of St Mary’s, then you are entitled to have a baptism here. Alternatively, we recognise that there may be historic connections to the parish and we will usually be able to agree to your request.

As part of the baptism service, you will make promises to bring the child up in the faith of the church. We will welcome the child into the family of the church during the service, so we would like you to join us for a few services before the baptism. You will be expected to attend a preparation session before we agree to book your baptism.  After all, if you were joining a new club or being welcomed into a family (through marriage, for example), it would be normal to want to meet people before committing yourself - we think the same is true for joining God’s family!

No, there is no rule against this. However, as a parent, you will have to make certain promises during the baptism ceremony. These include promising to raise your child in the Christian faith and walking with them on their journey with God. It seems a bit strange for parents to make promises on behalf of their child when they have not made them for themselves first! If you’re not baptised, but you think it’s a good idea for your child, we’d love to help you consider whether it might be right for you too.

Godparents are really important. Choosing them is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Here are some things to consider:

  • Godparents will be people who will be in touch with your family for many years to come. They may be relatives or friends of the family.                                                                                              
  • They will be people who you know you can trust and who’ll be there for your child to talk about the bigger questions in life; questions about faith, hope and love.                                                   
  • They should feel ready to make some big promises about faith for your child in church – we’ll talk about that with you at the preparation session.                                                                               
  • Three godparents is the norm (usually two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex to your child). There is no official maximum number of godparents but if you want more than three, we may ask for a donation to cover the cost of additional certificates.                                                                                  
  • Because of the very special role they have in supporting your child’s faith journey, Godparents must be baptised themselves. Ideally, they should be confirmed too, but we are prepared to be flexible on this point.                                                                                 
  • Parents can be godparents to their own child, subject to the point above about being baptised themselves.                                             
  • If you’re thinking about asking someone who is under 18 to be a godparent, please talk to us first. There’s no minimum age for godparents, but they must be mature enough to understand the responsibilities they’re taking on; your vicar can help you decide if this is the right choice for your child and the young godparent.
  • If you have someone in mind that you’d very much like to be a godparent but they are not yet baptised, it may be possible for them to be baptised during the service too. We can arrange a preparation session for that person too.

We don’t refuse applications for baptism from unmarried parents. However, Christian teaching is clear that marriage is the best and most stable environment for bringing up children. This public commitment to one another can bring great joy and security to your family. If you are not yet married, we would love to have a conversation with you about whether you would like to consider making this declaration to one another and the wider community of your ongoing devotion to one another. 

Baptisms at St Mary’s church are usually held on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 1pm (except in Lent, August and December, when baptisms do not take place).

A preparation session is an essential part of baptism and we are unable to baptise your child if this session has not taken place.  We will, therefore, not discuss a date for the baptism until you have attended this session.

The Church of England does not charge for baptisms. There will be a collection at the service, to support the work of the church, but how much you give is at your discretion.

Churches are expected, by law, to gain consent for baptism. Where parents have separated, we are required to check who has parental rights over the child and gain consent from all parties. If you have sole parental responsibility for your child (from a legal point of view), you will be expected to prove this.

Yes, there is! We know that many people would like some kind of service in church to say "thank you" to God for their child, with family and friends present, but without having to make promises or declare a personal commitment to the Christian faith. The Thanksgiving service (see below) provides for just this need, and we would be very happy to explain more about how this works if you're interested.

The Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child offers you, your family and friends an opportunity to give thanks for the birth (or adoption) of a child and to join together to celebrate and pray for family life. We offer this service to everyone who asks as an expression of God's unconditional love for you and your child. You don't have to say anything about what you believe; you don't have to promise anything; this service is about thanksgiving and celebration.

This service also enables you to recognise the role of friends in your child's life and for them to stand at the front of church with you as Supporting Friends. This service does not stop you or your child from opting to have a baptism at a later stage.

If you’d like to proceed with a baptism for your child, the next stage is to fill out an application form and return it to us. Once you’ve done that, we’ll be in contact to book a preparation session.

If you think you’d rather consider a thanksgiving, or you have further questions, please contact our vicar, Rev Ruth Barr at [email protected]

Baptism is not just for children. If you are able to make the decision for yourself, then you are also welcome to be baptised into the family of the church. You make the promises for yourself and will have supporters rather than God-parents, but they will still be people who will support and pray for your walk in faith. 

To download the Baptism Application form

To download the Baptism Order of Service