“for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ”
Baptism, or Christening, is a special, important event for anyone - child or adult. A baptism service is not just a day of celebration for family members, relatives and friends – it marks the start of a life-long journey with God, in the company of other baptised Christians in his Church.
Every parent wants the best for their child in terms of happiness and personal fulfilment. So many parents, as part of their desires, want their a child to learn about God and what it means to know and love him. The Christian faith offers everyone the chance experience the love of God within the family of the church. Everyone at St Mary's Church will do all that they can to welcome and support you during and after the service.
Can I have a Baptism at St Mary's?
Ottery St Mary Parish Church has an 'open' baptism policy, which means that it does not like to say no! However, if you live outside the parish boundary, you are asked as a matter of courtesy to contact your local vicar or rector to inform them of your child's baptism taking place at this Parish Church.
What is Baptism?
Jesus began his ministry when he was baptised in the River Jordan. The heavens were opened up to him, he received God’s Spirit, and heard the voice of God telling him that he was the beloved child of God. Jesus commanded his followers to make new disciples and baptise them too.
We see baptism, (or christening) today as:
An opportunity for a family to gather to celebrate and thank God for the new life which he has given.
A time when we remember that as well as being a member of a human family your baby is a part of God's family too, the family of the Church.
A 'sacrament' - an outward and visible sign of God's love.
A reminder that we all need to turn away from the darkness of evil and make a new start with God
Should My Child Make the Decision?
Nobody should want to impose his or her will on others. However, a parent has to make decisions quite early on that affect their child's well-being and development. Why not support their spiritual nourishment and teach them about the love of God from an early age?
When they are old enough there is the opportunity for a person to choose for themselves whether they would like to understand more about the Christian faith and make an adult affirmation of faith at a Confirmation Service.
Your Baptism Service...
When do Baptisms Take Place?
Baptisms are normally performed on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm, although they can be done in a church service so the whole congregation can share in the event, or at other times by special arrangement.
You'll need to consider who you would like as God-parents. It's recommended that they have been baptised, so that they are able to make the baptism promises confidently and with the full awareness of the commitments they are making. Being asked to be a godparent is a privilege and shows that you have a special place in the family, but there are expectations and responsibilities too. You are asked to promise that you will love and encourage the child in the Christian faith by prayer, example and teaching. There is no right or wrong number of godparents - the minimum is one godmother and one godfather.
The water used in baptism is a sign of cleansing and also an important sign of life. Water symbolises how we are all washed clean by God and forgiven and accepted by him. As we cannot live without water so this sign reminds us that we also need the cleansing and renewing presence of God in our lives. The water is blessed, signifying the living presence of God working through it.
After the baptism the congregation welcomes the newly baptised into the family of God - both the local Christian community and the Church of God across the world. It has become customary to acknowledge this with applause!
Baptism is a sign of entering the Church and traditionally the font which holds the water was placed near the main door of the church as a sign that we become a member of God's family when we pass through the waters of baptism.
During the baptism service the congregation is promising you and your child that it will support and pray for you and provide facilities for your child's Christian upbringing. We would welcome you to Messy Church, Allsorts and other church occasions.
There are then some questions about the way you intend to live your life. Parents and Godparents make the promises for themselves and also for the child. These promises apply to their own lives and are made also on behalf of the children for whom they will be responsible. The most important promise in the service, however, is the promise of God’s love and commitment to you and your family as you turn in trust to him.
Naming of the child
You will be asked what name(s) you have chosen for your child. The minister takes the child and says: 'N, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit', pouring water three times over your child's forehead as this is said. We answer at the end: 'Amen'.
There is no charge for a baptism service. But you may make a donation (by cash or using our card-reader terminal). A proportion of donations will be given to the children's charity Go Beyond (which gives children and young people a break that lasts a lifetime ). If you put cash in a completed yellow Gift Aid envelopes, any tax you pay can be reclaimed by the church at no extra cost to you. You may also gift aid via the card-reader terminal.
Lord, we thank you
because by water and the Holy Spirit
you have made us a holy people
in Jesus Christ our Lord;
you raise us to new life in him
and renew in us the image of your glory.