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Organising A Christening

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The following information is provided as a guide only, views and practices may differ between Churches and it is recommended that you consult with your parish priest to confirm the ceremonies that are available to you, together with the format of the ceremony.


Christening, Baptism, Thanksgiving, Church blessing or Naming Day?

Christening and Baptism
Many of us question the difference between 'Christening' and 'Baptism'. The Church of England's website (www.cofe.anglican.org) states there there is no difference,
'Christening' and 'Baptism' are just different words for the same thing.

Some websites although agreeing that a 'Christening' and 'Baptism' is the same thing, advise that a Christening tends to refer to the baptism of small children. Nowadays many people are baptised as adults. But you can only be baptised once - baptism is the entry into the Christian family.

How did the tradition of baptising babies start?
In the early years of Christianity, when adults came to Christian faith, and so were baptised, they naturally wanted to share the ceremony with their children as well, as a seal of God's love; a sign of belonging to the wider Christian family. So the tradition of baptising new born babies soon became established.

What happens during a Baptism?
At a baptism you have water poured over you three times. The sign of the cross is made on your forehead with holy oil, and you are given a lighted candle. These are all symbolic: the water symbolises that all humanity has been washed clean because Christ died for us. The oil is a reminder that through the love of God we are made pure and the candle is a reminder that the light of Christ is with us still. Baptism is one of the Church sacraments. A sacrament is the outward sign of something real - and baptism is God's love given to us unconditionally.

What promises are made at Baptism?
At baptism you promise to raise your child as a Christian and to know that God loves them, and to help them to follow Jesus as a Christian.

What if you don't go to Church?
Although most vicars and Catholic priests will allow you to baptise your child even though you do not currently attend Church, others may not agree to a baptism unless you are going to attend church at least from time to time. Many churches carry out baptisms as part of their main Sunday worship, so there's a real sense of the whole community celebrating with you, some may arrange a private ceremony. 

Thanksgiving / Church Blessing Ceremony
If you do not wish for your child to be baptised (you may want your child to be free to choose his or her own religious path when he or she is old enough) you may ask your parish priest about having a service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child.

In this service, you thank God for the gift of your child and the child is blessed. You do not make the same promises as in the Baptism service. The rite of baptism using water from the font, and vows on the child's behalf, and the presentation of a flame, are not incorporated in this service. I
f you choose to have a Thanksgiving, you may also have a Baptism service for your child at a later date.

Non-Religous Naming Day
If you are a non-believer or you simply don't want a christening but you do want to celebrate the birth of your child with the important people in your life then you may wish to organise your own Naming Ceremony at home or at a specific venue, outdoors etc. Parents can put together their own service including poetry, music and readings. It maybe a formal or informal event. Similar to a christening, you can choose godparent-equivalents (sometimes known as supporters). 'Arrivals' by Jane Wynne Willson and Robert Ashby is full of ideas on how to organise a ceremony and what to include, or go to www.civilceremonies.co.uk.

Organising the Ceremony

Organising the Christening or Thanksgiving of your little one can involve more planning and organisation than you may first have expected! To assist with the process we have compiled a checklist which will hopefully assist you along the way and help to make that special day stress free and even more memorable. 

To download our Christening Checklist please click here

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