Children are a gift from God. Naturally, many parents want to celebrate their arrival with some form of service in church. Bassingbourn Parish Church is part of the Church of England which, like many churches, recognises two main services to celebrate the birth of a child:-
In a Thanksgiving service, parents are bringing their children to celebrate the new life that has been given to them. It is the recognition that something wonderful has happened, and an opportunity to thank God for the children in their care.
The service contains some specific prayers and words which ask for God to bless the children and give thanks for the new life that is in them. In addition, the parents are invited to publicly declare their thanks, and close friends to pledge their support for the parents in bringing up the children.
Baptism (also known as 'Christening')
Baptism is for those who want to state their desire to bring up their child as a Christian. It therefore involves words of commitment to Jesus Christ and to his Church. As well as the words of commitment, the child is named, water is poured over the child, and prayers are said.
However, baptism is not just for children – adults can also be baptised if they have not been baptised previously. For adults it is a way for them to express their own faith in God and their desire to follow Jesus.
When an infant is baptised the parents and godparents make promises on behalf of the baby, and they look forward to the day when their declarations become real for the child.
Baptism is the mark of being part of the Christian Church. The Church is a family of people who are committed to each other and who promise to support and encourage children who are brought for baptism.
Families bringing their child for baptism hope that one day their child will be confirmed and make this commitment to Jesus and to his Church for themselves.
We ask you to think very carefully about this service as you will be committing to a clear and personal statement of belief in the Christian faith.
Some Questions Answered
What is the role of a godparent?
Godparents are those who agree to be especially concerned for their godchild's development, particularly their spiritual growth. Ideally, they will be committed to pray for them. You need at least one male and one female godparent. They need to be baptised and should also be confirmed members of their local church.
Once our child has been baptised, have we completed our Christian duty?
No, it's only just begun! At baptism, parents and godparents commit themselves to help the child grow up as a Christian, believing and trusting in God. Parents in particular need to encourage their child to worship regularly, read the Bible and pray. These will be very important for you to help your child continue in the Christian faith.
Is our child 'worse off' if I choose Thanksgiving or Baptism?
God loves everyone, whether your child has had a Service of Baptism, Thanksgiving or nothing at all. (A few churches require baptism before they will allow you to be married in church. This is not a legal requirement and Baptism is not needed to be married at Bassingbourn Parish Church).
What if we want 'Baptism' but don't feel we can make a clear commitment to Jesus Christ and his Church?
It is important that you are able to say the baptismal promises with integrity. If neither parent thinks you can do that, then it is best to have a Thanksgiving Service, or to wait.
Waiting can be a good option. There is no hurry to have your baby 'done'! Please think carefully about the implications of Christian faith for you and your family. Why not find out more? We regularly run the Alpha course which is a great way to find out about what Christians believe.
What Do We Do Next?
Contact the Church Office to arrange to talk to someone about the next step for you.
If you have not been to a service at the Church before, come along to our morning service, which starts at 11.00 am each Sunday. All our services have group for children but you may like to come to the KIDZ Service (an informal and fun service for all the family) which is usually on the second Sunday of the month. The service lasts an hour and would be an ideal opportunity to get a feel for what you are undertaking, especially if you are planning on a Service of Baptism.
You will be invited to come to our Parents Preparation Session which is generally held every two months. We will also arrange a personal visit from one of our Lay Ministers who will help to answer your questions and welcome you into the church family.