Baptisms and Thanksgivings explained...
What is the difference?
The Church of England offers two different Services to parents at the birth of a child. They are the service of Thanksgiving and the service of Baptism.
The Service of Thanksgiving is specially an occasion to thank God for the child and to pray for him or her. There can be a hymn, a Bible reading and a short talk. The most important part of the service is when the minister receives the baby in his arms, just as Jesus did. He then does several things:
- Before God and before the congregation he officially names the child.
- He says a prayer of thanks to God for the child and for a safe delivery at birth.
- He prays for protection of the child.
- He prays for the child's parents, and for their home.
- He asks for God to bless the child.
This service need not take place on a Sunday. The difference that people usually notice is that there is no water, because, of course, it is not a service of Baptism.
On the other hand, there is no obligation on the parents to attend church or be members of it.
A certificate is given to say that the service has taken place. The child is then free later on to make up its own mind whether to get baptised or not.
Baptism takes place within a normal Sunday service and usually on the first Sunday of the month at 10.30am. This is because baptism is seen as a sign of belonging to Gods family of the church and it is essential for church members therefore to be there to welcome their new member.
In the service of Baptism, the parents and the godparents stand up and make clear statements about their Christian faith.
They must say that they 'turn to Christ', that they 'repent of their sins', and that they 'renounce evil'.
They must also say that they believe and trust in God the Father who made the world, in Jesus Christ who redeemed mankind, and in His Holy Spirit who helps the people of God.
It is therefore a service in which parents declare that they have a strong commitment to follow Jesus and live each day by His teachings, praying often to Him and trusting Him for everything.
They are promising to teach their children to do the same and to be an example in this to them.
They are taking on a duty to bring their child to church for Sunday School and to be an active part of the church community - and St Michaels has a lot on offer!
These declarations should not be made without serious thought beforehand, and if you feel you cannot in all honesty make such statements, then we would strongly recommend the Service of Thanksgiving.
Having said this, it is not our policy to turn anyone away who brings their child(ren) for baptism and we simply ask that parents attend a two evening course of preparation that will be arranged with you. Nor is your marital status of any relevance to baptism and it is your child that we are baptising, not you!
You are also encouraged to attend some church services and the first Sunday is recommended so that you can see another baptism taking place, and/or the third Sunday that is particularly geared for families and children.
To make arrangements, you can call in at the church on any Tuesday evening between 7 & 8pm when the Vicar is available to answer questions and supply you with information, application form, etc. Or it may be possible to make provisional arrangements over the phone by calling the Vicar on 01322 220561.