Baptisms and Thanksgivings
What is a Thanksgiving service?
A Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child is what every child can have, whether or not the parents are investigating baptism. It is an opportunity to thank God for the gift of children and for us as a Church to pray for them and for those bringing the child to baptism. We can book in your child's Thanksgiving service almost straight away, once you've come to Holy Trinity and met with our Rector, Martin.
Why might this be this service be right for us? The Thanksgiving service is like a baptism service but without the water and the promises on the parents' part. If you’re not a follower of Jesus - living with Him as your personal Lord and Saviour and walking alongside others in your local church - or you are still investigating who Jesus is and why He came, but would like to celebrate the birth of a child, then we offer the chance to have a Thanksgiving service. That's because this type of service presents no assumptions or expectations regarding the faith or lifestyle of the family who take part and requires no promises from them – exactly what many are looking for – while still ensuring you can thank God for and celebrate the gift of your child. Parents can even appoint 'supporting friends' who promise to help parents in bringing up the child.
At Holy Trinity Theale we seek to be obedient to Christ in all we do, and so we take baptism very seriously.
§ Adults who wish to be baptised are those who have decided to walk with Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, and who desire to submit to His authority and reign over every area of their lives.
§ Infant baptism is right when a child's parents are those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, submit to His rule over their own lives and so want to raise their children within the church family knowing Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.
Baptism is the term we prefer at Holy Trinity over 'christening' because it’s the term the Bible uses, added to which ‘christening’ could give the misleading impression that we are making children christians in the act of baptism. Getting a child baptised doesn't make them a Christian - that is a decision every child will have to make for him or herself once they are older. If you are thinking of having a child baptised, the first thing to do is to start coming to church.
Why come to Church?
Coming to church won't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage would turn you into a car, but if you're thinking of having a child baptised, it's important to come to church for a number of reasons.
- It's a lifestyle change. For both parents and child, baptism is a commitment to Jesus and to your local church; it is important to start as you mean to go on.
- It's good practice. In the baptism service you will promise to bring your child to church and be part of the church family with them. We want you to be certain that when you make the promise, you are prepared to keep it - plus, it would be bad practice on our part to make you promise to come to church after your child's baptism if that wasn’t your practice before it.
- It helps you understand the baptism service and the promises you make. Coming to church will help you make sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and what is involved.
- It helps you get to know us. Baptism is partly about bringing a child into the church family. You will want to know whether ours is a church family that you want yourself and your child to be part of.
- It helps us to get to know you. In the baptism service the whole church family promises that they will welcome your child and pray for them. That is hard for them to do if they have never met you!
Where and When?
Baptisms and Thanksgivings are always at our main 10:30am service on the first or third Sunday of the month. You can invite your friends and family and there are Sunday Clubs for children and teenagers once the baptism is finished, so you can enjoy the rest of the service. We do ask that you commit to coming along to services to help you get a feel for things.
Our standard practice for all those who would like a child baptised is to spend a few weeks with us looking at the central claims of Jesus Christ in a very informal way. We usually do this as a seven week course called Christianity Explored. There will be a meal, a short video and then a chance to discuss what we’ve heard and ask questions. No question is too hostile or awkward and many find it to be a good way to examine the Christian faith as a couple in an honest way. We ask you to do this because the Bible says baptism is a sign that is given to Christian parents and their children. We do not want to make hypocrites of you and ask you to make promises from the front of church during the baptism service that you do not mean. Christianity Explored therefore gives you a chance to work out whether or not you believe what you’ll be declaring in the baptism service.
Once you’ve finished Christianity Explored and are happy that the baptism service represents your own convictions about Jesus, our Rector, Martin, will confirm the baptism date with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Parents’ Responsibility?
When children are baptised, their parents are asked to declare their belief and conviction in the Biblical truths of Christianity, and they promise to raise the child with a clear understanding of the Christian message. They should also encourage their child to become an active member of the church family.
What is the Function of Godparents?
To be a Godparent is a privilege, a responsibility and a challenge. Godparents make the same promises as do the child's parents. They declare their own belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ and promise that, by prayer and example, they will lead their Godchild into the same faith. As such we ask that all Godparents can say their oaths during the baptism service with integrity. We don't want to make hypocrites of people, so a careful choice needs to be made.
The Church of England requires that all Godparents are themselves baptised. It also stipulates that there needs to be at least two Godparents of the same sex as your child plus at least one of the opposite sex. There is no limit to the number of Godparents your child can have. It should be a minimum of three. Thus a girl would usually have two Godmothers and one Godfather, and a boy would have one Godmother and two Godfathers.
If you have having a Thanksgiving service, Godparents are not required.
Does Everyone Need to do Christianity Explored?
For the reasons given above it is our standard practice at Holy Trinity to ask you to do this.
What if we’re not regular members at church?
Again, because the child is to be baptised into the church family, any children baptised at Holy Trinity need their parents to be regular believing members before we plan a baptism date. But you don't have to be followers of Jesus to have a Thanksgiving for your child.
If you would like to enquire about baptism for your child, please click here to fill in our form.
If you would like to enquire about a Thanksgiving Serivce for your child, please click here to fill in our form (and ignore that the title says 'Baptism'.
If you are an adult and would like to enquire about turning to Christ and getting baptised, please click here to enquire.