Children are a gift from God. Naturally, many parents want to celebrate the new arrival with family and friends, and to have an occasion to share their joy with others.
You may well feel you want to come to church to say “thank you” to God for the miracle of this precious new life, and to ask God’s blessing as your child grows up. There are several ways to do this in church.
Christening is a traditional English word which means “…to become a member of the Christian church”. During a christening service a baby or child will be baptised* with water and welcomed into the community of the local church.
*There is no difference between a christening service and a baptism service. Some churches use the word ‘baptism’ and some the word ‘christening’. Babies are baptised during a christening service just as couples are ‘married’ during a ‘wedding’ service.
In recognition that not everyone bringing babies and young children for christening claims a fully committed Christian faith and may not wish to become worshipping members of St. Luke’s Lighthouse Church, we encourage parents to consider the alternative of a Service of Thanksgiving.
This service allows the birth of the child to be celebrated and ‘name’ in a worship setting, with God’s blessing being sought for both parents and child as the family seek to grow together in faith and love. The child is free to be baptised at a later date either when they are old enough to make a faith commitment for themselves, or when the parents acknowledge a more clearly defined faith for themselves.
Questions about Christenings.
- What is the significance of christening?
Christening marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love.
It is a picture of what God does for us when we turn to him and a public symbol of our determination to follow Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter if the faith of those seeking baptism for their child is not fully formed; the family have a lifetime of opportunity to build and strengthen whatever faith is available at the time the christening takes place.
A christening is also a celebration, a time to come together with family and friends; remembering that your child is loved by God.
We take the promises to bring the child up in the Christian faith (made during the christening by the parents, god parents and others present) seriously. For this reason we believe it is essential that the parents get involved in the life of St. Luke’s Lighthouse prior to the christening (and we invite and encourage them to maintain that connection afterwards).
- What happens in the service?
Christenings are services full of symbols for new life; at your baby’s christening
- water will be blessed and used to pour on the baby’s head
- The baby will be signed with the cross (a special oil may be used for this
- a christening candle will be given
- Godparents and parents will make promises that they will do what they can to help the baby understand the Christian faith, and we promise that we will make her or him welcome as part of the church
- prayers will be offered for the baby and the family
- Does a christening give my baby a name?
Your baby’s name is given when you register the birth. The child is named at the Christening ceremony and registered in the Parish Baptism register under that name. The baby’s name will be used often in the ceremony, and when the water is poured over the child’s head, the vicar will always use the name.
- Who is allowed to have a christening service?
The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families – whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a christening for your child. You do not have to be an active churchgoer – as parents, you do not even have to have been christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church.
- How much does a christening service cost? The good news is that a christening service is free. There may be costs for a family party, for gifts, for christening robes – but the church is free (though families that wish to are welcome to give a donation to the church as they can afford).
- Where can I hold the christening?
You can have your baby christened at St. Luke’s, your local parish church. If you want to have the christening at a different church, for example, where you grew up or where you were married, you will need to talk to the vicar at that church.
- Will there be several families having their children christened with us on the day?
No. We only conduct christening services for one family at a time. There will not be several families having their children christened during the ceremony, only your child/children.
- When can I have a christening? You can have your baby or child christened at any age. There is no upper age limit, but after about the age of seven your child should be able to make the promises for themselves.
- When does St. Luke’s church have christening services?
The service can either be held as part of a main Sunday service in St. Luke’s church, (11am), or as a private family occasion in the afternoon on Sundays or mid-day on Saturdays. There are also opportunities to have a service at a different time, please arrange with the vicar.
- What about godparents?
The involvement of godparents can be one of the most joyful parts of the christening. Godparents are not necessarily the people who will care for your child should anything happen to you. Rather they should be people who will be there for your child and help them think about the bigger questions in life – questions of love, hope and faith. During the service godparents make a promise to help your child understand the Christian faith.
Every child would normally have three godparents, at least two of the same sex as the child. However, as long as the child has at least one godparent the service can proceed.
Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.
Godparents should be at least 16 and should be christened themselves to make the promises on behalf of the child.
Please contact Revd. Rob Grinsell if you would like further advice on this
- What happens before the christening?
If you’re not currently a regular part of St. Luke’s Lighthouse Church life, we will encourage you to bring your family along on a couple of Sundays to experience worship, biblical teaching, and Christian friendship and fellowship with us before you finally make up your mind to have your child christened. We won’t normally agree a date for a proposed christening until after this has happened.
We also ask parents to attend a couple of evenings sessions where the content and nature of the Christening Service will be discussed and the vows they make on behalf of the child are explored. These vows include an undertaking to join the local community of faith by becoming part of St. Luke’s Lighthouse Church.
Once you’ve had a little experience of church life and have considered the promises you will be making in the Christening service we will also talk to you about the alternative of having a Thanksgiving Service for your child in place of a Christening; this is a less challenging option, requiring neither preparation nor a defined level of Christian commitment, and allows for a return at a later stage in life for baptism.
- What can I expect?
- We only conduct christening services for one family at a time. There will not be several families having their children christened during the ceremony, only your child/children.
- We will present you with a children’s gift bible.
- We will help you prepare (and then print for you) an order of service for your Christening.
If you have any other questions, or would just like to chat with someone about the possibility of having your child Christened at our church, please contact Revd. Rob Grinsell on 01303 893215 or via email, using the form below.
If you’re not local to us but would still like to contact someone to enquire about having your child Christened, A Church Near You will help you find a church close by.
If you are an adult interested in baptism then we would expect you to have an understanding of the Christian faith and a genuine desire to be fully committed followers of Christ. You will be invited to attend a course exploring Christianity before being baptised and confirmed at the next available service of confirmation.
If you don’t live locally you can still be baptised at St. Luke’s Lighthouse if you are a regular worshipper at, or have a long-standing connection with, the church.
The vicar can advise you further on this
Other sources of information
Some suggested Bible christening readings from the Church of England’s website.