Children and Baptism

by Michael Ford last modified 26 Oct, 2017 02:23 PM

Also known as 'christenings'.

Click here for Godparents Sunday
 

‘First steps on an amazing journey’

Everyone is welcome to have their children christened in their parish church. During the christening service your child will be baptised and, with the support of the church, you and godparents, your child begins an amazing journey of faith.

Christenings are joyous occasions for the whole family, church and community. We have lots of resources to help you! We can offer training for churches and volunteers, including what to put on your parish website - usually first port of call if people are thinking about a christening or have been invited to one. We can help you make the most of this opportunity for mission when people choose to come to church.

 

Preparing for baptism

All you need to know about planning and going to a Church of England christening can be found on churchofenglandchristenings.org. It also includes information about another church service to say thank you for God for your baby, along with a parent’s guide to christenings and a guide for godparents.

Lighting a candle is a great way to pray for a child who has been, or will be, christened. Lighting a candle is a great way to do that, either by clicking this link or in a church.

 

Official CofE resources for churches

The Church Support Hub has useful articles and downloads. Click here to have a look

The Church Print Hub has excellent leaflets and resources for Christenings. These can be printed with details of your church. Main print portal here

 

Other resources for churches

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Ideas for 'going the extra mile'

  • Provide a simple photocopiable workbook and/ or colouring book which parallels the baptism service, and which can be given to children along with a pack of colouring pencils, which are usually available very cheaply at many supermarkets
  • Ask the family what they hope for their child and compose their answers into a unique prayer to be framed and presented to the family at the baptism. If you ask the family for a photograph of the child, this can be included along with the name of the child and the date and location of the baptism. Most families will keep this on display and be reminded of their promise to pray for their child
  • Look for opportunities in the service itself to involve any older children, especially siblings, and the children of godparents and in the wider family. Looking after items such as the shell, towel, and oil stock (if you use them) are ideal tasks, along with helping to pour the water into the font
  • Think about how you welcome children who are to be baptised and their families, especially if they are not used to church. Have Welcome Cards that actually welcome!
  • Have people sit near the children and families who can be befriend and guide them through the service
  • Use Liturgy boxes
  • Use new Eucharistic Prayers when children are present
  • Choose music that is easy to learn even if they don’t know the songs. Ask if there is a hymn they might like to sing
  • Suggest ideas for what to do with babies/ toddlers/ older children in your church
  • Ensure that the family meet the local church community in a way that will be welcoming but not overwhelming

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Ideas for follow-up

  • Make an anniversary visit to the family. Suggest that they can relight the baptismal candle, look at photos, or say a prayer. If you can’t visit, write these ideas in an anniversary card
  • Give the family a bag for life - items for a baptised child’s journey of faith. A card (to welcome you), a book of prayers (to use when you talk to God), a Bible (to learn about the word of God), a candle (to light your path), a packet of seeds or a bulb (to live a life of promise and expectation), milk and honey (to feed you on for the journey), a postcard with info about church activities
  • Give them books so that they can share what happened at the baptism once the children are older, or give other age appropriate Christian books they can share as a family. There are examples below
  • Send or hand deliver Baptism Anniversary cards that include an invitation to suitable services and events

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Resources for follow-up

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Ideas for parents

  • Hang pictures of your child’s baptism, preferably in their bedroom: e.g. the water being poured over them, the family group photo at the baptism font, a close up of their celebration cake, them being held by their godparents: all these are visual reminders for them of the special day. Pause to talk about the pictures and the baptism: the visual images help them remember this special event and see that it is still important in their life. A framed baptism certificate is also an option
  • Celebrate their baptismal anniversary each year. Light the baptism candle they received as a newly baptised infant and talk about the Light of Jesus that shines within them. If you do not have a baptism candle, you could order one, or use a special-looking generic candle. Look through all the photos of the event and party. Talk together about what the water, creed, candle, and sign of the cross mean. This celebration might even include a cake: it is ‘new birth’ after all, and children know that cake makes something special! Consider celebrating YOUR baptism anniversary so your child can see that baptism is still an important part of your life, too
  • Pray the Aaronic/ Priestly Blessing before bed. In Numbers 6:22ff, God instructs Moses to tell Aaron to use this blessing as a way to “put God’s name on his people.” This familiar blessing is known as the Aaronic or Priestly Blessing. You could pray this over your child every night before bed. I ask if you can bless them. I hold them with their head resting on your shoulder, pray it, and make the sign of the cross over their back:
    The Lord bless you and keep you;
    the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
    the Lord look upon you with favour and give you peace.
    In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
  • Attend other baptisms. Seeing other baptisms enables children to see that they are always part of God’s family. When children see a baptism, they are naturally curious and ask great questions. It also allows you to strike up conversations
  • Play 'baptism' with them
  • Visit the CofE Christening Website, churchofenglandchristenings.org. Pages include ‘Light a candle’, ‘Guide for parents’, ‘Guide for godparents’, ‘Warm welcome for guests’ and ‘What follows baptism?’

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Godparents Sunday

 

Celebrating the unique role of Godparents. Setting apart a Sunday to celebrate and pray for this special relationship is a great opportunity to share with families and ask for God’s blessing on godparents and godchildren everywhere.
Main article on the Church Support Hub 
25 ways to celebrate Godparents Sunday 
Godparents Sunday Liturgy 

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Other ideas for services

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