Baptism (or Christening) in the Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak
You’ve probably clicked here because you’re thinking about having your child baptised and you’re interested to know how things work, what to do next and what the expectations are in this parish.
The first thing to say is that we do gladly baptise or christen babes in arms. Age is no barrier to God’s grace in the sacrament of baptism.
We understand baptism as a “joining ceremony”. It’s not about naming - your child already has a name! It’s not even primarily about saying thank you. It’s about making promises on behalf of your child to bring them up as a Christian, and you can’t do that without being part of a church.
So if we baptise your child in this parish we will expect to see you in church on a regular basis afterwards.
If you’re not already familiar with the style of worship here, then come and see. See what you think. If, after one visit, you think that we’re all as mad as a box of frogs, then you’ve saved yourself signing up for something which you’re going to regret. There are loads of churches in the area and we’ll happily point you in the direction of one which might be more suitable.
At the end of the day we want to do what is best for your family - we don’t want you to make promises you have no intention of keeping; or jump into something you later regret. So come and see - come and join us for worship on a Sunday. If you like what you see we can talk about fixing a date.
Baptism marks the beginning of the Christian journey - a journey which lasts beyond this life time (not many things these days offer a longer-than-lifetime-guarantee!) and one on which we constantly learn new things about God, deepen our relationship with Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to help make us more like Jesus as we walk his Way.
Baptisms usually happen in the main Sunday service on the last Sunday of the month (but not during Lent) - this is so that, as the newest member of the church family we can see and support your child, and you can see the rest of his or her adopted family.
When a child is baptised the parents and Godparents make promises on the child's behalf - and this is what they promise (the priest asks the questions, the parents and godparents make the promises in bold):
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them.
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ.
In order to keep those promises and to bring up your child in the Christian faith you need to be coming to church on a regular basis so that your child can (to quote the service of Baptism): "learn to know God in public worship and private prayer, follow Jesus Christ in the life of faith, serve their neighbour after the example of Christ, and in due course come to confirmation."
It's only fair to point out the expectations on you if you bring your child for baptism in this parish.
If on the other hand you say you'd still like some kind of church service - but without the commitment - then we can talk about a Service Of Thanksgiving. It's NOT a baptism - so your child wouldn't be "christened"; there would be no Godparents; there would be no promises such as the ones I've mentioned above, and no expectation to come to church - this IS about saying thank you to God for the safe arrival of a new life. It would also mean that your child could be baptised at another stage in his or her life (perhaps if he or she chooses to when they are older).
The Service of Thanksgiving could happen in church (not necessarily in the Sunday mass), or we could arrange to hold it in your house or another place.
So the response is: yes, we'd be very happy to baptise your child - but that involves joining the Church and coming regularly on a Sunday. If that's not what you want we can talk about a Service of Thanksgiving. But if you are serious about joining the church, please do come along on a Sunday (10.30am at St Nicolas church, or 9am at Good Shepherd) and see what you're signing up for!
There is no Fee for baptism - it reflects God’s free gift of life, but obviously if you want to make a donation to the Church you are most welcome, but this is not expected.
You may be thinking about Godparents. Traditionally it would be two men and one woman for a boy; and two women and one man for a girl - but in practice you can have as many godparents as you wish. All Godparents MUST be christened or baptised themselves, and preferably Confirmed, but there is a bit of wriggle room with Confirmation. The reason for this is that their role is to support, pray for and set your child a Christian example, and take an interest in their spiritual development. If you’re really clever you may even choose Godparents who take a turn in bringing your child to church!
There is a form to fill in, so if you are interested please see one of the Team after mass, or make contact with Fr Andrew.