Useful Downloads & Links
This form is essential. Without the completion of this form (click the link above), the baptism will not take place. You can still use the downloadable form in PDF or Microsoft Word formats, which you can email back to email@example.com but we prefer the online form.
Who can be baptised?
For a start, not just your children! Baptism (“Christening”) is a gift from God which can be conferred at any age, and the Parish Clergy would be most happy to speak with you about that step in your own Christian journey. It is increasingly common for Parents or Godparents to be be unbaptised, and so we can arrange that (usually in a low key midweek service when you are accompanied by close family and friends) – there is no need to be embarrassed if you aren’t baptised – we can sort that out!
If you live within our parish boundaries or are on our electoral roll (church membership roll), your child can be baptised at one of our Churches. If you aren’t sure where the boundaries lie, we will be happy to advise you . If you don’t live in our parish your child can only be baptised here with the permission of your own parish priest, We encourage people to be baptised in their own parish church.
We expect you to come to the principal Sunday Mass at least three times before your child is baptised, and if appropriate to attend a session held by one of our sister Church of England churches within this part of Plymouth (we work together as something called a Mission Community). This is so that you feel properly connected to us, and have the opportunity to remind yourself of the important promises you will be making on behalf of your child. If you live in another parish, before the permission of your own parish priest can be given, you also need to attend the principal service there at least three times also. We have a card which you can bring with you to record your attendance and where appropriate your priest’s permission. Baptism is a free gift from the Church. There is no fee for Baptism, but we do need your help and do suggest a donation but we will not turn away anyone unable or unwilling to help us out – the Church’s primary mission is to Baptise the whole world, so do not be put off if cost is an issue.
Lone Parents and Unmarried Couples
Baptism expresses God’s love for your child and his unconditional welcome for him or her (and you!) We aim to be just as welcoming – whatever form your family takes. Your marital status, orientation or personal circumstances does not have any bearing on whether or not you or your child can be baptized. If anything about your family circumstances worries you we will, of course, be happy to listen and try to help. We seek to be a welcoming and inclusive church that does not judge but is committed to showing God’s love to all.
To book or make enquiries about Baptism at one of our Churches you will need to contact Fr. Simon either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07976 802123. We can’t take firm bookings over the phone, but if you would like to talk to Fr. Simon about it at any time you are welcome to call or email. The best way is to complete the online form here. Alternatively, you can download the application form from here: in PDF or Microsoft Word formats and email it to Fr. Simon.
The key response we will make is come to Mass. All the teaching and preparation is mediated through the main gathering of the parish in worship, and we expect you to be a part of this.
We also strongly encourage you to come to our Family Communion Service, which will restart shortly. It is aimed specially towards young children and their parents using the tunes of Nursery Rhymes.
We will be happy to make a tentative date for the baptism when you make the booking, but the baptism cannot take place unless you have been appropriately prepared. If work circumstances make this requirement difficult, then the clergy will advise you further, as Mass is held during the week and in the evenings also.
To catch a member of the Clergy (and you can speak with any of us, not just Fr. Simon), the best place to do this is after Mass, so come along… it’s a child-friendly, welcoming place and the main reason for baptism into God’s church.
What happens in the Baptism Service?
We normally hold baptisms at a separate service just for your family in the afternoon: that way we can focus on your particular needs. IT IS NOT A PRIVATE SERVICE, alternatively, a baptism can take place during the main Sunday morning service. Anyone can be baptised at any time (and in an emergency, we will respond gladly). There will be members of the regular congregation to help the priest and help you know where to sit and when you need to move. Some parts of the service are for the whole congregation to join in, some will be just for you and the godparents.
For the baptism itself, parents and godparents will be asked by the priest to gather first at the front of church and then around the font at the back. The priest will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child. (see section on ‘Making decisions and promises’).
It is an informal and friendly service and we hope you will feel at home. The whole service takes about 40-45mins as there is a lot of time spent on the signs and symbols of baptism. For an over view of the service and its teaching, please visit Fr. Simon’s blog: https://frsimon.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/telling-a-story-teaching-baptism-through-doing-it/ (this was a Chapter in Fr Simon’s 2011 book Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children)
As most services take place in the afternoon, we do not have the resources for an organist and so the service (as you see above) doesn’t have any hymns in it – I know for many families and especially those who are not so familiar with Church will find that quite a relief! If you want to sing hymns, then we should arrange a baptism in the Mass itself on a Sunday morning, and it won’t (I’m afraid) ever feature All Things Bright & Beautiful.
Making decisions and promises
When you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe I God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus.
You will be asked to answer, on your child’s behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and to turn instead towards Christ. The declarations made by you and the child’s godparents will be made in front of the congregation. It is not unknown for one of the parents to be unwilling to make these important decisions and promises, as they declare themselves to be an atheist. They may excuse themselves from standing and making these commitments, but are welcome to be present at the baptism. They will not be asked to come forward. We would rather these promises be made without hypocrisy and would not seek to embarrass anyone who objected: we think they’re mistaken and would welcome to opportunity to engage with them on this. Godparents unwilling to make these promises, clearly, cannot be Godparents; and you should choose Godparents carefully based upon their willingness to commit to Christ and to your child.
We also expect Godparents to be present. If they are unavailable or otherwise engaged then they cannot be Godparents. There is only one exception to this: if a member of HM Forces is on active deployment. When this has happened, the Godparent made his promises over the telephone. In an area like ours (with 42 Cdo RM Bickleigh in our midst and the Naval Bases here), this is pastorally right, but is the only circumstances in which a Godparent may be absent (and such was his commitment that we arranged it like this).
However, if you aren’t sure about being able to make these promises, if you simply don’t believe in all this, if you are just having “the baby done” for the sake of a nice party and some lovely photographs, then I’m afraid baptism isn’t for you. We don’t routinely offer the Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child unless your child was (for example) baptised in an emergency when they were born, as this is the chance to thank God for that already baptised child; but we don’t offer it as “baptism-lite”: these promises are serious.
The Church of England Christening’s Page – is a very good site to help you explore further what baptism is all about.
During the service, you will be asked to make the following declarations:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
Parents and godparents: I reject them
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
Parents and godparents: I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
Parents and godparents: I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
Parents and godparents: I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
Parents and godparents: I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ the way, the truth and the life?
Parents and godparents: I come to Christ.
It is recommended that your child should have at least three godparents. Traditionally there would be two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. Godparents should be adults, or at least older teenagers. A useful rule of thumb is that they need to be old enough to be responsible parents if they are to be responsible godparents. Sometimes we have requests for older brothers or sisters to be godparents, but unless they are adults this is usually not appropriate and we would rather involve them in the service in other ways – for example, holding the candle.
We insist that Godparents must be able to be present at the service to be able to make the important promises they are required to make. What would you think if a bride or groom was unable to be present at a wedding? If (as is not unknown in our locality) a Godparent is at Sea or on Deployment in Her Majesty’s Forces, then we can be flexible about the date and time of the service to ensure that all parties are able to be present.
Godparents must be baptized themselves, and preferably confirmed. Baptism is a good opportunity for both parents and Godparents to think about their own faith and commitment, since both will be making wide-ranging and serious promises during the service. If someone wishes to be a Godparent but has not been baptized, then the parish clergy are happy to baptize them as well, either in an evening service or in another large celebration. We do not see that as the end of the matter, though, because if you are baptised to be a Godparent, we also expect you to continue the journey of faith onto Confirmation.
A number of symbols will be used during the service itself:
The sign of the cross
The priest will make the sign of the cross on your child’s forehead. This is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.
The priests says: ‘Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of the cross. Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.’
The priest will invite you and the godparents to sign the cross on the child’s forehead after he has.
The priest will pour water on your child’s head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptised our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ.
The priest uses a shell to pour the water on the child’s head. This is an old symbol of a special journey called a pilgrimage. People who went on these journeys were called pilgrims. They wore shells to show that they were pilgrims.
The child being baptised is on a sort of journey through their lives. They are pilgrims too.
Anointing and Robing
After baptism with water, the priest will wrap the child in a white ‘robe’ and anoint him/her with a highly fragrant oil. This is a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and becoming part of the royal family of God, as this is the same oil used to crown Kings and Queens.
The priest says: ‘May God, who has received you by baptism into his Church, pour upon you the riches of his grace, that within the company of Christ’s pilgrim people you may daily be renewed by his anointing Spirit, and come to the inheritance of the saints in glory’
Jesus is called the light of the world. A large candle will be lit In the church and you will be given a lighted candle at the end of the service as a reminder of the light which has come into your child’s life. It is up to you, the child’s godparents and the church community to help your child reject the world of darkness and follow a way of life that reflects goodness and light, and shares this light with others.
When did baptism start?
Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan. This was a turning point in his life (you can read the story in the Bible: at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel in the New Testament). Jesus told his followers to baptize others as a sign that they had turned away from their old life, and begun a new life as Christ’s disciples, members of his Body, having been assured of God’s forgiveness.
Baptisms often took place as the sun rose on Easter Morning in a river: new Christians were dipped under water, marking their death to an old way of life, an lifted up again as a sign of new birth. At our baptism we are reminded of its link with the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead on the first Easter morning.
The church belongs to all the people of God – the children just as much as the adults – and they are welcome at any service. It is sometimes nerve wracking for parents, though, if they are worried about how their children will behave, and what will happen if they get restless. Here are some tips from those who have brought their own children to church and survived!
Children like to be able to see what is going on. The temptation of many parents is to sit at the back, butoften children are happier and feel more involved if they are at the front. If they want to stand or sit that is fine.
Children, like adults, take a while to feel at home in new surroundings. They will soon pick up, from you and from the other people in church, when it is time to stand and sing and when to sit and listen or kneel and pray. Bringing your child to Mass, and into the Sunday School if they are old enough will enable them (and you) to feel at home in God’s house.
Bring some quiet toys and books. There are also toys in drawstring bags at the back of church for your children to play with during the service.
If children become restless, don’t hesitate to take them for a wander, perhaps into the Churchyard then come back again.
Around Church there are candles, lecturns and other things that might cause injury, Please keep an eye on them if they go for a wander. It is often better to let small children wander (and wonder) rather than trying to tie them down bored in a pew.
Frequently asked questions
Q. What is the difference between a baptism and a christening?
A. None, they are just different words for the same thing.
Q. What is the right age for baptism?
A. Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism. Teenagers and adults can also be baptised—ask the parish clergy about this.
Q. What does it cost?
A. The baptism service is free, but this church needs to be paid for. We therefore ask that you consider a donation for the upkeep of the Church of at least £50. If there are financial issues, then please speak with one of the Clergy. If we (and that includes you) cannot pay for the upkeep of the Church then these ancient churches will simply not be around for your child’s children or grandchildren, and what a shame that will be. Additionally, A collection plate is in church for any donation from members of the congregation—if you are a tax payer, please out your donation in the printed envelopes and sign them as we can get an extra 25p for every pound you generously give, at no extra expense or effort from you: everybody benefits!. Ask those coming to the baptism to consider bringing something to give for the future children to be baptised in this church.