Your child is a wonderful gift from God - it’s only right to celebrate! That's why at St. John's we love to welcome families who want to thank God, and bring their little ones to him. We are very pleased to be part of that, and this page explains some of the ways we may be able to help you.
At St. John’s we offer two different types of service: a service of Blessing for your child or a service of Baptism, marking the start of a journey of faith.
Both are ways of celebrating the life of your child, and offer the opportunity for a family celebration. They both take place during a Sunday church service, so all the church members can welcome and commit themselves to pray for you and your child. The main difference is the extent and depth of Christian commitment that each service asks of you.
What is a Blessing?
A Blessing – or to give it its full legal name: “Thanksgiving for the gift of a child” – is a celebration to mark the birth and naming of your child. We give thanks for your child’s life, and pray for you and your little one, asking for God’s help in the years to come. It is the sort of service that anyone who believes in God can stand up and take part in, even if they are not sure what else they believe. It’s a great way to express gratitude for the birth of your child, and to receive God’s blessing.
What is a Baptism?
Baptism - or christening - is a deeper and more solemn decision for a family. By it, you are publicly making a decision to start your child on a journey of discovery as an active part of the church.
For your child, baptism marks a commitment to knowing Jesus and exploring all the good things he brings into our lives. Parents and godparents make very solemn promises before God - just like wedding vows - and declare their belief in Jesus. The promises are about
- turning away from the natural way of doing things, and letting God rule every area of life (the Bible word for this is “repenting”) and
- trusting Jesus Christ and receiving his gifts of forgiveness and Holy Spirit to change us, so we can live for him (the Bible word for this is “believing”).
As parents you will also promise to bring your child up to know Jesus, reading the Bible with them, praying with them, and bringing them to church week by week.
Along with you, the whole church will also pray that your child will grow up to understand and commit themselves to the promises made in baptism. This they can do when they are old enough, and be brought for what's called 'confirmation'.
How do I know whether baptism or blessing is right for me?
If you want to thank God for the gift of your child, but don’t feel ready for the solemn promises that baptism involves, then the blessing is for you.
Of course, your child can always be baptized later. That may be if and when you, or your child, want to go for it!. Often that's because they want to make the promises for themselves.
Baptism is for the children of parents who are - or would like to be - active and practising Christians. The Christian faith is a personal relationship, knowing and enjoying God through Jesus, that is shared with others in a local church.
Do I have to come to church?
If you decide to have a blessing, that doesn’t imply any ongoing commitment to come to church. That said, we’d love to see you any time. You might be surprised by what you find! But the blessing doesn’t involve any promises to that effect.
The baptism service, by contrast, does include the clear promise by parents and godparents to help their children “take their place within the life and worship of the church” – in other words, to bring them along on a regular basis.
Please get in touch! As you might expect, we have many enquiries about infant baptism each year. If you have any questions along the way, just contact us for a chat. We'd love to welcome you.
If you’re not part of the church family already, the first thing to do is come along to church and meet us one Sunday morning. You might want to have a chat with Rick (our vicar) or Carl (our youth & families minister). They’ll introduce you to one of our baptism visitors – ordinary members of the church family who will welcome you and come and meet you to chat through what you would like for your child.
The next step is that we’ll then invite you to a couple of Baptism Preparation sessions. We hold these two or three times a year – on a Sunday afternoon. These are very informal and relaxed, and give you a proper chance to meet the vicar, along with several other parents who are also considering baptism. We can then discuss with you how you would like to proceed. If you’re keen to go ahead, we normally arrange the Baptism a month or so later.
We hope this information is helpful, but please don’t worry if you still have questions! If you would like more details, please call our Church Office, who will be delighted to help - or use the enquiry form below.