Baptism at St. Mark's
Baptism and thanksgiving at St Marks
Here at St Marks we are very happy to conduct baptisms (also known as christenings). The baptism of babies and children nearly always takes place at the 10.45 Family service on a Sunday morning – which is now held in Keighley Shared Church.
We also offer a service of thanksgiving for a child for those who feel this is more appropriate for them. This service may take place on a Sunday afternoon by arrangement with the vicar.
Adults wishing to be baptised should speak to the clergy.
Contact the Church Office (01535 607003) for more information.
What is Baptism?
In baptism, you as parents are:-
- thanking God for his gift of life
- promising to bring up your child in the Christian faith
- deciding to start your child on the journey of faith
- doing what Jesus told his followers to do
- asking for the Church's support
For your child -
- baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from self-centeredness
- baptism also means turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.
Baptism is a 'sacrament' - a visible sign of God's love. In baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we need to turn away from the wrong things in our lives and to make a new start with God. When we baptise children, we are expressing our faith that God will help them to do the same.
Making Decisions and Promises
When you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus.
You will be asked to declare, on your child's behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and to turn instead towards Christ.
The declarations made by you and the child's godparents will be made in front of the church congregation. The Christian community will promise to support you and to pray for you and your child.
During the service, you will be asked to make the following declarations:
Minister: Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
Parents and godparents: I reject them.
Minister: Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
Parents and godparents: I renounce them.
Minister: Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
Parents and godparents: I repent of them.
Minister: Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
Parents and godparents: I turn to Christ.
Minister: Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
Parents and godparents: I submit to Christ.
Minister: Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
Parents and godparents: I come to Christ.
Shouldn't our children make their own decisions?
Some people worry that they are imposing views on their children, but from the moment they are born, you make choices on their behalf. You don't wait until they are old enough to ask for milk before you feed them and in the same way it is right to give them spiritual nourishment and teach them about the love of God from an early age. When they are old enough they may choose to be confirmed and to make an adult affirmation of faith. However, you may wish to talk over any doubts and concerns you have with the vicar or another church leader. They will be happy to help.
It may be that having a baby has made you think about life's big issues, and you have decided that having your child baptised is one way of helping them get the right start in life. But it may also have caused you to think again about your own life and about God. St Mark's church runs a course introducing Christianity, called Alpha, which many people have found to be really helpful.
Being baptised does not make anyone a Christian. Christianity is not about the rituals and rules, but about a relationship with God, made possible by Jesus Christ. The Alpha course helps to understand this, but there are lots of people at St. Mark's who would be happy to explain this further to you.
Some people prefer to allow their child to make their own profession of faith when they are older, but still want to thank God for them. St. Mark's also has 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.
If you choose to have a Thanksgiving, you can still have a Baptism service for your child at a later date
What happens in the Baptism service?
Your child's baptism will normally take place as a part of the Family service, at 10.45 in the Keighley Shared Church. This is so that your child can join the family of the Church and be welcomed into membership. In turn, the Church will promise to support and pray for you and your child.
We will make sure you know where to sit and when you need to move. Some parts of the service will be for the whole congregation to join in, some will be for you and the godparents.
For the baptism itself, parents and godparents will be asked by the minister to gather at the front of the church around the font. (The font is a basin on a pedestal, containing the water for baptism.)
The minister will ask the parents and godparents to make declarations on behalf of the child (see the section 'Making decisions and promises').
A number of important symbols will be used during the service itself:
The Sign of the Cross
The minister will make the sign of the cross on your child's forehead. This is a symbolic act to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him. The cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith.
The minister says: 'Christ claims you for his own. Receive the sign of his cross. Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.'
The minister will pour water on your child's head. Water is a sign of washing and cleansing. In baptism it is a sign of being washed free from sin and beginning a new life with God.
Water is a sign of life, but also a symbol of death. When we are baptized our old life is buried in the waters (like drowning) and we are raised to new life with Christ. The Bible talks about baptism as a sign of joining us into Christ and his death and resurrection.
A Lighted Candle
In the creation story at the beginning of the Bible, the first thing that God says is "Let there be light." Jesus said "I am the light of the world". In the baptism service a candle is lit and presented to the child's parents, with the words "This is to show that you have passed from darkness to light."
In the service the church congregation will say some formal words of welcome to acknowledge that your child has joined the Church and to show how pleased they are to have you among them. Usually the minister will take the baby down the church aisle and show them to everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What's the difference between a baptism and a christening?
A: None, they are just different words for the same thing. The Bible never uses the word christening, which carries the idea of giving a name at the same time as baptism.
Q: Can we have a private service of baptism?
A: Baptisms usually take place in the church's main service, because they are a public declaration that your child has become part of the church family. It is important that the church congregation is there to support you and welcome your child. However, if personal circumstances make this difficult, talk to the minister.
Q: What is the right age for baptism?
A: Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism.
Teenagers and adults may also be baptized – speak to your minister about this. You can only be baptized once, but there are ways of renewing your commitment publicly as an adult – the minister will be able to advise.
Q: I'm not a regular churchgoer. Can I still have my child baptized?
A: Yes, although we would strongly encourage you to join the church or at least attend a few services before the baptism, so you can begin to be part of God's family before we formally welcome your child. The Church believes that God's love is available to all, regardless of their background. Your parish minister can talk you through the options: you may prefer to have a Thanksgiving service first and then consider baptism when you have had time to talk through what is being asked of you.
You may also wish to find out more about the Christian faith and what joining the Church involves before you make a decision about baptism. Again, your parish minister can give you guidance. The Alpha course, mentioned above, is a good way to explore what Christianity really means.
As the baptism is a service of welcome, we hope that you will commit to regular worship with us.
Q: What does it cost?
A: The Baptism service is free.
Q: A lot of the language in the service talks about evil and the devil. Isn't this a bit unsuitable for a baby's baptism?
A: The baptism service has remained largely the same since the church began 2000 years ago. In those days people converted to Christianity from paganism and that kind of language was highly appropriate. Christians have left the service more or less the same to show how seriously we take the problem of sin and evil.
Q: What is a godparent?
A: Godparents make the same promises on behalf of the child being baptized as parents. Godparents promise to pray and support the child and to help the parents to bring up the child in the Christian faith. It is an important and responsible role.
Q: How many godparents should I have?
A: The custom is three:- two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. However this is not a strict rule and you can discuss with the minister what is best.
Q: Who should I choose to be a godparent?
A: Godparents can be family members or friends. However, it is important that you choose people who will take an interest in your child's spiritual welfare and who will pray for you and your child. They should normally be baptized themselves. Ask the minister for advice if you are not sure.
What happens after the baptism?
Baptism marks a new start for your child, as a member of the worldwide Christian community You have promised to bring up your child in the Christian faith, and the best way to do that is to be part of an active group of Christians . In turn, the Church welcomes you and your child and promises to support you in bringing the child up in the faith. The Family Service at 10.30 on Sundays, where most baptisms take place, is especially suitable for children There is a creche, and there are groups for older children at that service. There is also a toddler group during the week, meeting each mornig during school term time. Ask at the Church Office for details.
What should we do now?
Ask the Church Office for a baptism form if you don't have one. Please complete it and return it to us. When we have received it, the minister will contact you and arrange to visit you to arrange the details of the service.
If you have a preferred date for the service, please discuss this with the Church Office. We do not normally hold baptisms on the first Sunday of the month, when it is a Communion service, or when there is a special Sunday such as Easter. There may also be another baptism booked for the date you want and we do not normally have more than one in the same service, so please confirm the date with the church before inviting family and friends.