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. 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.
If an adult, baptism is usually followed by confirmation.
If baptism is of a child, then the parents and the godparents stand up and make clear statements about their Christian faith. It is the Vicar's responsibility to make sure the parents understand what these mean and that they take them seriously.
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.
Following Jesus this way is not a 'one off' declaration, but part of a lifetime of commitment to Christ. If the family have recently joined us as a church, it would be appropriate for the parents to share with the church family what it means to follow Jesus in their lives and as part of St Michael's.
These declarations should not be made without serious thought beforehand. If parents feel they 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. If you are new to church, we ask that parents attend a course of preparation that will be arranged with you. Because baptism involves a commitment to setting an example on what it is to be a Christian, part of the preparation involves understanding the importance of commitment to God's family, the church, as well as help in how to bring up your child knowing and loving Jesus.
To make arrangements, you can call 01322 288235 or email the Church Office for further information..
If you would like to arrange a Thanksgiving or talk about a baptism, please complete this form: https://tinyurl.com/stmichaelsthanksgivingbaptism The vicar will arrange to meet, typically in the church after a service, to discuss this further.
If a baptism is the preferred option, please be aware that baptism preparation is run in groups, beginning with a four week introduction course. An important part of baptism is that the family are making promises to be part of the church of Christ: we want to get to know you and you us, so we can help you in this journey.