Oh help - I’ve been asked to be a godparent! What does that involve?
When a child who is too young to speak for themselves is christened (or baptised - same thing; different word) the parents and godparents make promises on behalf of the child. Those promises are to bring the child up in the Christian faith - as the service says “to 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”.
So your role as a godparent (which technically ends when the child is Confirmed) is to pray for your godchild, set them a good example and support their spiritual development…
…and actually, that’s about it!
Godparents MUST have been baptised (or christened) themselves, and preferably Confirmed too - but there is some wiggle room with Confirmation. Baptism is what marks us out as Christians and signifies the start of our Christian journey - so it’s assumed that if you have been baptised yourself you are somewhere on that journey through life trying to make sense of things in the light of the Christian faith - however brightly (or not!) that faith burns within you. Sometimes we find that being asked to be a godparent makes us re-visit a faith we had as a younger person, or stop and assess our own beliefs and practices - which is no bad thing: making a promise is a serious thing.
If you are interested in exploring the faith further, or getting more involved why not speak to one of the clergy at this church or your home church.
There is no legal responsibility, and becoming a godparent does not make you a Guardian of your godchild.
So what might being a godparent involve?
Remembering birthdays and Christmases kind of goes with the territory. Remembering the day of the child’s baptism is another important way of marking your role as godparent.
Being a kind of mentor - or “friend outside the immediate family” can become a key role as the child grows up, and most teenagers at some stage think their parents are hopeless and need an outside perspective as they work out who they are and where they are going in life. Often this role is fulfilled by, or contributed to by a godparent.
If you live close enough and if the parents are savvy enough you might even be asked to take the child to church from time to time as part of your role!
What happens at the service?
At the service itself the baptism usually happens after the sermon. Parents, godparents and the child come out to the front of church (with their service sheets) and the priest asks the parents and godparents to answer on behalf of the child. These are the six questions you will be asked (your answers are 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.
After this the child has the sign of the cross made on his or her forehead in special holy oil, and the party moves to the font for the actually baptism. Your separate speaking role is now over! The rest of the responses we will all say as a congregation.
In one sense your role as godparent has just begun!
A pray for your godchild
Sometimes we find it difficult to form words to frame our prayers - other times it comes easy. Here is a prayer you could use:
Almighty God, thank you for N
and for the way my life touches theirs.
Guide, direct and bless N as s/he grows.
May s/he explore the way of Jesus,
grow in friendship with God,
in love for God’s people
and in serving others.
May s/he listen to the word of God
and receive the gifts of God.
Keep him/her safe this day
and bless those who care for him/her (especially…)
May N grow in the likeness of Christ,
in whose name I pray.