The birth of a baby – and the start of a new life – is, of course, an event of the highest significance. And – as in the other great life events of marriage and death – the Church of England has a particular role in helping the people of this country mark these moments if they so wish. Here in Terrington the Church family is delighted to welcome families who seek to mark a new arrival with some kind of service in the Church building, and we offer them the choice of either a “Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child” or a “Baptism” (or both).
A “Thanksgiving for the birth of a child” is a relaxed and meaningful opportunity for the family to gather together and, besides thanking God for the baby, to pray for him/her and the couple as they embark on the exciting but demanding task of being parents. As well as involving all the wider family and friends, the service has provision for particular supporters (like godparents) to commit themselves to the baby’s care and development. The service includes the public naming of the child, the presentation of a Gospel and the minister praying for God’s blessing for the baby. Whilst we are delighted to build such a service into one of our regular monthly All-age Services we are also happy to arrange for such services to take place separately, often at around noon on a Sunday, to suit the convenience of the family and their guests.
The Thanksgiving service does not involve the couple in making any promises about their own Christian commitment or Church attendance. Where a couple are already committed Christians – or feel that they would now like to make that kind of undertaking for themselves and their children – they can opt for a baptism service as a context in which to make it. Of course, many families who are committed Christians still opt for a Thanksgiving service anyway, on the grounds that they would like to leave their children to make their own minds up about baptism in due course. And indeed, a baptism service can take place at any stage after a Thanksgiving service, when either the parents or (in due course) the child feel it to be appropriate.
Baptism was first given as a mark of an adult repenting of their sins and turning to Christ, and of course it remains the proper sign of an adult’s conversion (and indeed we baptise as many adults as children). As baptism is about commitment to Christ and his Church, it always takes place in one of the Church’s main Sunday services and naturally involves some participation in the Church’s Sunday worship before a date is set. Where a family were not already members of the Church family this gives them a chance to meet the rest of the family – who will (in the baptism service itself) be promising their support in the walk with Jesus over the coming years.
Please feel free to contact Robert Slipper if you have any enquiries or questions about these services.