God welcomes you to become part of his Christian family! No one is “born” Christian. Through the sacrament of Holy Baptism, we are given something that by nature we cannot have. we come to know ourselves as loved and adopted children of our Creator and Redeemer.
As parents, we share in God’s work of creation by having and nurturing a child. But you cannot give to a child, or take for yourself, the gift of eternal life as a son or daughter of God. This is God’s gift to us, freely given, and made visible in the water and actions of baptism. When we are baptised, something real happens. Water is but the outward and visible sign of the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit. We are changed forever, in a mysterious and wonderful way. We take on the character of Christ, and begin a new life. Our baptism is not as an Anglican, but as a Christian.
Baptism cannot be re-done or undone. The vows remain, even if parents or Godparents do not live up to their promises, or we later use the freedom God gives us to reject his gifts. If we stray like the old lost sheep, God and his Church will always welcome us home.
The Baptism of Children
In the baptism of adults serious promises must be made about how we will live our lives from this moment on. The baptism of infants and young children transfers this heavy and joyful responsibility to those who bring them to baptism, and to those who receive them. Young children cannot repent and turn to Christ on their own. Parents and Godparents of a baby are making a life decision for another human being. During the service, Godparents become the speaking voice of the child, but also make promises about themselves. As you read the baptismal vows ahead of time, do some thinking: do you desire for yourself what you are asking for this child? Can you commit your child to anything more than you are committed to yourself?
Your “baby Christian” will grow by your example and encouragement throughout childhood. You will promise to teach her to pray, to bring her to worship with other members of God’s family. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to bring up a child as a Christian if they are not trying to live as Christians themselves. Part of this is coming to church, where you and your child can be part of the family of God in action in a parish – praying, hearing the word of God, learning, receiving the sacraments, helping each other and the wider community.
If you have been away from church for a while, you are not alone. Sometimes having a child changes us, makes us want life to have more depth and meaning than it has had until now. If you are restless, or feel not quite satisfied, you may be hearing the voice of God within you. Just imagine it!
The Baptism of Adults
In some of the earlier centuries of the church, adult baptism was very common. In recent years, the number of unbaptized adults finding faith is increasing. Sometimes this change is dramatic; sometimes it happens slowly, or follows a time when we think of ourselves as atheists or agnostics. Whenever and however, faith is always the work of the Holy Spirit, prompting us to find meaning for life in God, and to want to commit ourselves to learn about him, and follow him.
You will be offered teaching and a chance to talk, listen, question, probably one-on-one. Preparation will vary according to individual need. You may be baptized first and confirmed later, or possibly baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion may occur at the same service (although this depends on the availability of the Bishop for confirmation).
What to do:
Contact the Priest, Fr Christopher Snook, after a service or by email. He will provide instruction, give you the information you need to weigh the responsibilities being undertaken, and explain the service itself. Baptism will take place during one of St. George’s regular Sunday services – Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, or Evensong. We try to be understanding when it comes to choosing a date – mindful of family schedules and needs, parish schedules and needs, and the seasons of the church year.
All persons to be baptized must have one or more sponsors, or Godparents, who will stand with them and promise to pray for them as they develop in their faith. Godparents must themselves be baptized Christians. If the people you would like as Godparents are not baptized, but desire baptism into the Christian faith, please ask.
If you attend another church of any denomination, but would like baptism at St. George’s, a note of commendation from your pastor is needed. Your family may have some history at St. George’s, or something about the church or clergy may be particularly meaningful to you. What is most important is that you continue to grow as a Christian or Christian family, worshiping God in the love and support of a faith community somewhere.
If you are not currently attending a church, it will be a joy for our congregation to pray for you and to be part of you or your child becoming a Christian through Holy Baptism. Perhaps you will continue to find God’s peace and nourishment for your soul at St. George’s.
There is no fee associated with baptism. Many people find this a good time to express their thanks to God by making an offering to support His church’s ministry in this neighbourhood.