It’s wonderful that you are thinking about a Baptism for yourself or your child here at St Mary’s. We are thrilled that you are eager to find out more. We hope that this page helps answer some of your questions and will help you as you think through whether this is the right step for you at this time.
What’s baptism all about?
It’s about being a disciple
The New Testament teaches that Baptism is the act by which a person, having openly declared a trust in Jesus Christ and a desire to follow him as a disciple, is joined to the Christian Family, the Church.
Baptism involves both a personal allegiance to Jesus and a commitment to the life, fellowship and worship of the church. In other words it means that a person has been so gripped by Jesus that they want to make him the centre of their life.
Baptism is a first step in response to the gift of new life in Jesus. Importantly, baptism is an identity marker – a badge – that not only identifies us as belonging to Jesus, but also helps us remain faithful to him all our lives. Kind of like a football shirt identifies us.
Through Baptism we are saying that we have died to our old lives and now live for Christ alone. Through baptism we are trusting Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and for the power and freedom of the Spirit to live a new kind of life – the kind of life that Jesus had.
As a church here at St Mary’s our main aim is to bringing people to faith in Jesus – Children and Adults – and be intentional disciples. We therefore encourage those who come to faith to make their commitment to Jesus public in baptism.
For these reasons, baptism is normally administered at a public Sunday service when a large number of the church family are present, either in the traditional manner of sprinkling with water from the font, or by total immersion. Baptism is not a private thing but a public thing and having it in our main service gives the whole church family the opportunity to welcome new members and to remember their own profession of faith made to God in their baptism.
From early times, the Church has also baptised children who are not yet old enough to profess faith for themselves, on the grounds of the obvious faith of the parents and on the understanding that they will teach them about Jesus and how to be a disciple like them. Just as children learn language simply by being surrounded by it and by trying it out, we baptise children of Christian parents in the expectation that they will naturally learn from them what ‘living in Christ’ means. We see that children of Christian parents belong to Jesus right from the start of their lives and because baptism is a badge that says “I belong to Jesus”, we think that Children of Christian parents should also be baptised if their parents want them to be.
But this all depends on faith… and consequently as part of the baptism service parents and godparents are asked about their own faith and called upon to make public their own love of God and their discipleship of Jesus.
In line with Anglican tradition, parents and godparents who choose baptism for their children are required to have been baptised and ideally also confirmed or to be fully communicating members of the Church. It is expected that parents will be fully involved in the life of the church community, worshipping with the church on Sundays and growing the their faith.
Adult Baptism and Reaffirmation
In recent years, as more people are coming to faith later in life not having been Christened as a child, we have seen an increase in adult baptisms. We are also seeing an increase in adults choosing to reaffirm their baptismal vows by full immersion. The reasons for this are varied but one major factor is that although Christened as children many people have grown up in families where faith was not practised, talked about or experienced and so when this becomes real in later life and people are born again, they are very attracted to marking this new beginning with a reaffirmation of their baptism. Just as it is not possible get married to the same person more than once (except in some very rare situations), but it is possible, and sometimes very significant, to renew ones wedding vows, so likewise, while it is not possible to be baptised into Christ more than once, it is possible, and sometimes really significant, to reaffirm and renew these vows in later life.
If this sounds like you, do get in touch with us!
What to do next?
If you want to take any of this further the best person to get in touch with is the Vicar, Richard Wilson. Preparing for baptism, whether for your child, or for youself as an adult, usually takes several months because baptism is so important to the us as a church.
If you are a parent, our main aim is to help you to disciple your family in the most effective way. Check out the Parenting for Faith page about how we can support you in this more.