Congratulations on the birth of your child.
We hope that you’re fast settling into new routines together and enjoying each other’s company. And thank you for approaching St. Mary’s as you consider how to celebrate and thank God for this new addition to your family, and to ask his blessing on your child and home.
We always start with a ‘Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child.’ This service can happen as early in your child’s life as you like; within the first few weeks if you want, and can normally be arranged at very short notice.
This service allows you to call together family and friends, and to:
- Thank God for this new life
- Join with us in asking God’s blessing on your child and family
- Receive the gift of a child’s Bible
- Invite friends and family to play a special part in your child’s upbringing.
This service does not require any particular Christian commitment on the part of you or your family and we are able to offer it to anyone, regardless of where you stand on matters of faith.
A service of Thanksgiving would normally take place during one of our 10:30am services.
If you would like to book a Thanksgiving at St Mary’s please either talk to Henry (the vicar) after a service or you can contact him on 0115 9784914 or email him.
For many families a service of Thanksgiving is all that they are looking for, but for some the further step of having your child baptised (or Christened) is appropriate.
The Baptism service is for children who have at least one parent who would consider themselves to be a committed Christian.
Unlike a Thanksgiving, a Baptism service is all about commitment. It celebrates God’s commitment to us, and it is an opportunity for you, the parents, along with the godparents you choose, publically to state your personal commitment to Jesus Christ and to bringing up your child within the Christian faith.
The church also makes a commitment during the service: to welcome your child and to help and support you as you seek to bring your child up to know and love Jesus.
Because commitment is such a key part of the service we feel it is important to make sure that parents realise the importance of what they are saying and that they are ready to do so, and so if you want to have your child baptised we would ask you to come on a short Baptism Preparation Course. If any of the godparents live locally we would also encourage them to come on the course, but we realise in many cases that simply isn’t possible.
Before considering Baptism we would ask that if you are not already you become a regular worshipper at St Mary’s. You certainly don’t have to come every Sunday, but we hope that you would come often enough to start to feel part of the family of St Mary’s and to contribute to our life together.
Like a Thanksgiving Baptisms take place during one of our 10:30am services. Because the church has an important part to play in the Baptism service, stating our commitment to welcoming your child and supporting you, we do not offer private Baptism services outside our normal services.
We are normally able to book in a Thanksgiving service at very short notice – if you would like to book one do get in touch with Henry
When you have had a Thanksgiving we would be very happy to talk about Baptism and to book you in on our Baptism Preparation Course.
Q Does my child need to be baptised in order to have a proper name?
A NO. Names are given by a child’s parents (normally in hospital, where it appears on the ‘tag’ round a baby’s leg), and then registered on a birth certificate. The church has no authority to ‘name’ a child, though of course the child’s given name is reinforced by its use in public at either a thanksgiving and/or a baptism service.
Q Can my child be married in church if s/he is not baptised?
A YES. In England everyone has the legal right to be married in their local church or the District Register Office. This right is irrespective of any religious view they hold or whether they’re baptised or not.
Q Can my child have a Christian burial or cremation if s/he is not baptised?
A YES. Again, this is not affected by baptism at all.
Q What about ‘godparents’?
A When a child is baptised s/he can’t answer for him/herself. ‘Godparents’ are people who make the profound promises of baptism on the child’s behalf, and promise to bring the child up in the Christian faith, and take responsibility alongside the parents for their becoming part of the local church. For this reason they must be baptised themselves. The Thanksgiving Service gives parents a chance to ask close friends or family to act as ‘sponsors’; they promise to do all they can ‘to help and support the parents in bringing up the child.’