Baptism 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.
For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.
The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ's death for us. Our 'drowning' in the water of baptism, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ's dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus' baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
As you pray for the candidates, picture them with yourself and the whole Church throughout the ages, journeying into the fullness of God's love.
Jesus said, 'I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.'
These words of introduction from the service of baptism, or Christening, convey the Church of England’s and Shirley Parish’s desire to offer the fullness of life in Christ to everyone.
Here are a few things that may help you to decide whether baptism, or Christening is for you or your child:
1. There is no upper or lower age limit for baptism
2. Baptisms normally take place after the main service at St James’s, at midday on most Sundays, though they can take place during the main service or at other days and times, depending on your circumstances and needs.
3. It is usual for children to have three godparents (for adults we call them sponsors), though you may choose more or fewer. The only stipulation is that godparents must themselves be baptised.
Once you have decided on baptism for yourself or your child, we ask you to do the following:
1. Firstly, contact the parish office to provisionally book the date for the service.
2. Come to one of our services and introduce yourself to a member of the clergy, who will then ask you to provide some contact details by filling in a form and then arrange to come to your home to discuss the arrangements for the service.
More details can be obtained by following these links:
For a variety of reasons, parents sometimes do not wish to have their children christened, preferring instead to bring them to church for a service of thanksgiving and dedication. If this is what you wish, then contact the parish office and they will put you in contact with the clergy in a way that is very similar to the arrangements for Christenings.