Our ServicesChild Baptism
Child Thanksgiving and Baptism (Christening)
For parents few joys compare to the amazement, wonder and love felt towards a newly born or adopted baby and growing child. We’d be so pleased to share in that joy with parents in those earliest days, months and years of a child’s life.
Have you visited churchofenglandchristenings.org yet? You’ll find it full of useful information, tips and ideas.
WE REGRET THAT BAPTISMS ARE SUSPENDED DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC, EXCEPT IN CONTEXT OF AN EMERGENCY.
The Journey Begins… Come and Give Thanks
Congratulations! The birth or adoption of a child is a cause for celebration. Many people are overcome by a sense of awe at the creation of new life and want to express their thanks to God. A Service of Thanksgiving provides a perfecct opportunity for parents and families to give thanks for the birth or adoption of a child and to pray for family life. We warmly invite you to come for a special celebration of your new child at a ‘Thanksgiving’ ceremony which includes naming your child and the presentation of a gospel. This beautiful service can be held in any of our churches and is called a ‘Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child’. We value this as a way of celebrating your newly born or adopted child with you as the nuclear family, simply as parents and, of course, any other children or with your wider family and other guests. Such a service is also great in advance of arranging an infant baptism which, as described below, is less about the celebration of your child and more about your faith in Jesus. To journey with us through Thanksgiving to Baptism is ideal. So, please contact the Parish Office if you would like to make arrangements with the clergy for your special ‘Thanksgiving’ service.
Letting the journey continue… Baptism (or Christening)
Baptism (popularly called Christening) is different to the ‘Thanksgiving for your Child’; Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into membership of the Church which Jesus asked of those who sought to follow him.
This can be at any age as a child or adult.
Baptism is the celebration for you exploring and committing your child to the Christian Faith rather than the party for their birth. The service involves you and your Godparents positively affirming your faith in Jesus and committing to bring your child up in the faith within the church community. That’s why parents and Godparents must themselves be Baptised and ideally Confirmed too. It’s certainly not the thing to ‘do’ for a child under any pressure or others expectations – infant baptism only arises out of the parents faith in God.
Arising out of your faith in Jesus then we’d be privileged to baptise your child as a member of the church. Please understand that their baptism is only fully complete when they grow up and can say ‘yes’ to the baptism you are giving them. It is to that leading of your child towards their own service of ‘Confirmation’ when they are older, that parents and godparents commit themselves in the baptism service. So, you can see that this is part of their faith journey with you and us together: Baptism expressing your faith commitment to bring them up as Christians to the point where they confirm it as their own faith at their Confirmation. Such a faith journey… it never ends!
Who can be Baptised?
- We are pleased to baptise candidates who live in the parish with parents and Godparents who are themselves baptised.
- If you live away from the Parish of Alverstoke then we must invite you to seek baptism for your child in the parish where you live because it really is about your child belonging to their local church community and where they can attend their church rather than one which, although it may have past associations with their parents (such as marriage or through grandparents), cannot realistically be their place of attendance today – sorry!
- If you live outside of the parish but close enough to make St.Mary’s the church at which you worship and attend our different children’s and families groups then we can start to discuss baptism with you.
We do hope that we may be able to host the baptism of your child here, it is always a special joy – but (due to the reasons above) if we cannot then we are confident that you will find a very warm welcome in the parish community in which you live and that you’ll be able to have a lovely baptism in your local church.
The Journey of Baptism in Alverstoke takes four steps…
If you seek baptism for a child in Alverstoke then it involves 4 visits for each parent who lives with the child.
The four steps:
- You attend Church Alive on the first Sunday of the month – to witness the previous baptism ‘welcomes’ and attend a short meeting at the end (see below under ‘how do I book’ for details)
- You attend a Baptism Preparation Evening
- You enjoy the Baptism Ceremony
- You bring your child back to receive their ‘Welcome & Baptism Candle with Certificates’ at Church Alive.
We therefore look forward to getting to know you through these visits – all of which you will be find to be enjoyable, informative and significant parts of the journey.
When do Baptisms take place?
For children we host Baptism Services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month at 12.30pm. Adult baptisms and those of older children are individually arranged and follow a course of preparation. Some Sundays through the year may be changed for special church events and please note that we will only accommodate up to 4 children in a service. The baptism service lasts about 50 minutes and we can accommodate you inviting any number up to about 50 guests. The service is in two parts divided between the day of baptism and followed by the ‘Welcome to your child with Presentation of Candles & Certificates’ at a Church Alive Service the next month.
How do I book a baptism for my child?
Baptism is an important event and we would like to take the opportunity to welcome you and help you to think through what it means and what you will need to say and do in the service. To do this there are two steps in booking a baptism in Alverstoke:
- First, please come to St.Mary’s Church Alive on the first Sunday of a month, arrive from 10.30am. Get a cup of coffee and take your seat ready for the relaxed service starting at 10.45am during which there are activities for children. During the service you will see the ‘welcome and candle presentations’ to those children who were baptised in the previous month. After the service the vicar and a member of the baptism team will meet you at 11.55am in the Chapel for a 10 minute chat to welcome you, introduce baptism, answer questions and to book you in to a preparation evening.
2. Second – having been ‘booked’ in to a preparation evening at Church Alive you then attend the evening; ideally both parents and please arrange for baby sitters – we cannot accommodate your children at this meeting. This is usually on a 3rd Monday night of a month. At the Baptism Preparation Evening you may then book a date for your child to be baptised.
What about Godparents?
It is traditional to have three, but you may ask one or two more Godparents. Please ensure that your Godparents are themselves baptised; it is a legal requirement. We regret that we cannot accept any requests for Godparents who are not baptised. Please also ensure that two are of the same sex as your child. Godparents need to be Baptised and should also be Confirmed (we have a bit of discretion over them being Confirmed). Godparents need to make some big declarations and promises so do consider carefully the faith of a godparent before you ask them to do this for you.
Please note that it is less common for adults to have been baptised as infants, so please don’t assume your friends are baptised before you ask them to be Godparents. We cannot baptise adults just to make them ‘godparents’ but sometimes people do start to take their own journey of faith towards adult baptism at a different time. This may be for a parent or for your friends – please to look at Adult Baptism & Confirmation and you’d be very welcome to make your own applications.
This is what the canon law states about the need for Godparents and about their role:
1. For every child to be baptized there shall be not fewer than three godparents, of whom at least two shall be of the same sex as the child and of whom at least one shall be of the opposite sex; save that, when three cannot conveniently be had, one godfather and godmother shall suffice. Parents may be godparents for their own children provided that the child have at least one other godparent.
2. The godparents shall be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities both by their care for the children committed to their charge and by the example of their own godly living.
Will it cost me anything?
No, Baptism is free – but we do ask for a contribution of £10 towards the cost of an organist for the service. This is appreciated for the organists professional services, thank you.
Simply turn up in St.Mary’s at Church Alive at 10.45am on the first Sunday of any month. We look forward to welcoming you on that occasion and starting the journey with you towards baptism. If you are with us in advance of that date then please say ‘Hi’ – we’d be delighted to meet you.
What happens after my baby is baptised?
You will visit Church Alive again for your child to be welcomed by the congregation in to the family of your church and to receive a baptism candle with certificates for you and the godparents.
Sundays: For you and your child we hope that you’ll come back and visit us on Sundays – you’re so welcome to be part of the church family in Alverstoke. We seek to discover what it means to be alive to God in our lives and for our children – that we and they may grow in the confidence of God’s love for us. Our ‘Church Alive’ service is geared towards all ages. See our Sunday Services page for details of all services.
Come to… ‘Seahorses’ Baby & Toddlers Groups
We’d love to see you with your child at our lovely groups. Every Monday in the Parish Centre from 1.15pm-2.45pm and every Thursday.
Our Seahorses groups provide a caring safe local support network for parents/carers with a safe environment for babies and toddlers to develop, play, build friendships, with a foundation of Christian values.
Baby area, indoor/outdoor toys and ride on’s, crafty activities, stories, and singing. Socialise and chat with other parents/carers.
Weekdays: For you and your child during the week we hope that you may enjoy our ‘Baby & Toddlers’ Group, ‘Bible & Biscuit‘ group or ‘Messy Church‘ plus our family events. See the Families page for details.
Bible and Biscuit: an opportunity for parents of pre-school children to explore the reality of Jesus in our lives as the children play amongst us. Meet Fridays in term time 9.30-11.00am.