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Baptism (Christening)

For Baptism/Christening enquiries please contact

The Church of England have a fantastic website on Baptisms which is a useful resource

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Is there any difference between Baptism and Christening? Christening
No, the words mean exactly the same thing.

What is Baptism?
It is an outward sign of a belief in God’s abiding love for every human being, and a means of them joining the church.  In the service the baby, child or adult receives the sign of the cross on their forehead as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrificial love.  Water is used as a sign of spiritual cleansing and a reminder that the sins we confess are always forgiven.  Finally, a lighted candle is given as a permanent reminder that the ‘light of  Christ’ has come into the candidate’s life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When do Baptisms take place at St James’ & St Mark’s?
Baptisms normally take place during our main Sunday service (10.00am) because we believe it’s good to have the whole congregation present to welcome the candidate into the life of the church.

Adult Baptism
Much of the advice below assumes an infant Baptism (Christening). The process for Adult Baptism is similar but with some key differences and usually some extra preparation. If you are interested in being baptised yourself, or would just like to ask some questions about the possibility, please contact us and we will arrange an initial meeting with a priest.   

How do I choose godparents?
We recommend a minimum of two and a maximum of four, with both genders represented.  Every godparent has to be baptised, and it is a real benefit if they have a living faith and a real interest in your child.

What is my responsibility as a parent or godparent?
We baptise children on the understanding that parents and godparents believe in the importance of a Christian faith and will want to engage with the life of the church.  This is expressed, in part, in the promises they are asked to make in the service.

Do you turn to Christ?  I turn to Christ

Do you repent of your sins?  I repent of my sins

Do you renounce evil?  I renounce evil

In practice this could include one or more of the following:

  • Putting your godparent card (received at the service) on a noticeboard next to their picture and praying for them when you pass it
  • Being an example of Christian living to them (inc. generosity and openness)
  • Choosing a book that will help them with their faith
  • Asking their parents how you can help them bring them up

We will do what we can to provide services and other activities to which you can bring children and young people.

What if I am uncomfortable making these promises?
We would be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.  If you feel you are not ready to make these promises with integrity, you may wish to consider a Service of Thanksgiving, in which you can thank God for the gift of your child without making formal promises.  Such a service does not stop you or the child asking for Baptism at a later stage when you are ready, and you and they are always welcome in church.

What preparation is involved before the Baptism?
You may talk to us at any time about your plans and, once they are finalised, we will confirm the date, time and church in which the service will take place.  We will meet with you at least once before the service to help you understand the meaning of Baptism, to listen to your thoughts as the day approaches, and to sort out any questions (including practicalities such as the presence of people with special needs).  We will also outline the work that we do to support children and they parents in their journey of faith following baptism. We may invite you to the church for this, and/or the priest doing the Baptism may offer to visit you at home.

Is there a charge for baptism?
No.  As the service reminds us that God’s love is freely given it would be wrong to ask you to pay anything.  You may make a donation to the church if you wish.

Do we receive a Baptism Certificate?
Yes, together with the baptism candle mentioned near the beginning.

Are my children welcome at St James’ and St Mark’s?
Children are very welcome from the earliest age.  Find out more about our facilities for children.

What will the church do to support us as parents?
We know that, for some parents, the Baptism of your child is the first contact you have had with the Church possibly for many years. We look forward to welcoming you into a friendly, open, relaxed church where you can learn more about faith and worship the God who loves you.