We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to God’s family through baptism.
Baptism, or christening, is the way people become members of God’s family, the church and the worldwide Christian community. The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word for washing. When we are baptised, we are washed in water “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In other words, it is God (not the Vicar!) who washes us and gives us a new start.
God wants everyone to have a loving relationship with Him and with each other. Growing into those relationships can be a lifelong journey for Christians. Baptism is a public statement by God, the candidate, their supporters and the church that the candidate has joined the worldwide Christian community on that journey.
The basic rule in the Church of England is that you or your child should be baptised in your local parish church. But there is an exception if you attend another church, outside your parish.
If you don’t live in the parish, we normally won’t baptise you or your child at St Peter’s unless you have been attending church regularly over a period of time. So you may need to think about approaching the church in your own parish if this applies to you.
If you do live in St Peter’s parish, we will be delighted to baptise you or your child. We ask that you undergo some preparation and that you meet the requirements about godparents and sponsors (explained later on). As baptism is about identifying with the Christians community, we’d like to think you would want to get to know us and join in our worship.
One of our ministers will meet with you to explain about the service, and the different parts of the ritual mean. This meeting takes about an hour and should ideally be in church.
For the christening of a baby or young child, this meeting is all the preparation you will need. For adults and some older children, it is helpful to discuss whether it would be right to be confirmed as well as baptised.
Confirmations happen once a year, in preparation for which candidates from St Peter’s attend weekly sessions spread across several weeks.
Children baptised in the Church of England traditionally have at least three godparents, at least two of who should be the same gender as the child. However the rules also say that “when three cannot conveniently be had”, one godfather and one godmother is fine.
Godparents are usually relatives or friends, but parents can be godparents too.
Adults being baptised have sponsors rather than godparents. Each candidate should have at least two sponsors. Their role in the service is to present the candidate for baptism.
Godparents and sponsors have an important role to play in supporting the baptised on their journey into a loving relationship with God and neighbour, which God created them for. Because of this, the rules require them to have been baptised themselves, and preferably confirmed as well.
Baptisms at St Peter’s take place during our Sunday morning service, which starts at 10am. There are three reasons for this:
1. For anyone—child or adult— becoming part of God’s family is a public event.
2. So that the rest of the congregation can welcome those who are baptised, pray for them and support them.
3. So that the congregation remembers the promises God made to us, and we made to God, at our own baptisms.
There is more to explain about this, and we can do this during the preparation meeting.