If you are reading this page because you are wondering about getting baptised then that is great news. It may be helpful for you to know a little about Baptism before you consider further whether you want to get baptised at St Mary’s.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a sign or a seal. Baptism neither confers God’s grace, nor is it a precondition to receiving God’s grace (his gift of salvation). Rather, baptism is a visible demonstration of faith in Jesus Christ – either that of the adult getting baptised or of the parents and godparents of the child getting baptised.
What does Baptism symbolise?
Baptism is closely linked to this idea of turning away from our old way and turning to God (which the Bible calls ‘repentance’). The act of baptism symbolises the washing away of sin. This is another way of speaking about God’s forgiveness.
Baptism is therefore only meaningful where there is a genuine decision and desire to follow Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to following and serving him for the whole of our lives.
What does the ‘Baptism’ do?
The ‘baptism’ itself does not “turn someone into a Christian”. It is only a symbol in the same way that an engagement ring symbolises engagement. Baptism cannot make a person a Christian any more than putting on an engagement ring can make a person engaged.
But it would be equally wrong to think that the ‘baptism’ had no meaning at all. Baptism reminds us of God’s wonderful promises to forgive our sins and to make us his children if we trust in Jesus Christ. These promises are publicly declared in the reading of Scripture and in the symbolic actions (like the washing with water) that take place.
How can children be baptised if faith is necessary?
God’s promises are not only made to individuals, they are made to families. So, for example, when the apostle Paul and his companion Silas were asked by a man: “What must I do to be saved?“, they replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16: 31) Children are included with their parents in the promises of God. They may be baptised if they are part of a Christian family.
Children are baptised on the understanding that they will one day make their own profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The ‘Baptism’ therefore has a ‘conditional’ note.
If children are to grow up to be Christians they need encouragement and teaching. The most significant influence will be parents (and god-parents) who have a genuine and active Christian faith of their own.
Who may be baptised?
Any person who professes faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and has at least a basic understanding of the Christian faith, may be baptized. In the case of children, it is the parents and god-parents who express this faith on behalf of the child. This is only meaningful where the parents and godparents have a genuine faith in Christ themselves and should not be sought if there is no faith seen in daily life and weekly service at church.
What should I do to get baptised at St Mary’s?
We strongly encourage you to join our parish. As an established member of the congregation, you will get to know the vicar and he would be very willing to talk further with you about you or your child getting baptised.
It is our desire to be as helpful as possible to help you think about baptism so that it is both meaningful and special for you and your family.
Please join us. We hope to see you there.
What If I Decide Baptism Is Not What I Am Looking For?
If you are simply looking for a naming ceremony or a way to thank God for your child, the Church does offer ‘A Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child’. The vicar will be happy to discuss this alternative option with you.