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A simple policy statement is used by Emmanuel Church Tolworth

Baptism and Thanksgiving Policy

Emmanuel is a Church which contains both people who are convinced that baptising the children of believing parents is right, and those that are convinced that baptism should only follow adult profession of faith. Our policy must allow both positions to be held with integrity, recognising that both have long histories among Bible-believing Christians, while recognising that the Church of England encourages the practice of baptising children of believing parents. We should celebrate both Infant Baptisms and Thanksgivings.

We are also a congregation which is regularly approached by people outside the church family to have their children baptised / christened, and who make that request without any clear knowledge of the Christian message.

We are thirdly a congregation in the Church of England, which requires us to prepare adult candidates, or parents and godparents in the case of children, but which does not allow us to refuse anyone baptism although this can be deferred for appropriate preparation of parents and god-parents.

Emmanuel's policy will be that infant baptism and thanksgiving will normally be presented as alternatives after appropriate preparation so that the choice is understood.

The nature of the preparation will vary and must be at the minister's discretion, but will always include making sure that the parents study the teaching and promises in the baptism service and that the significance of the gospel is explained.

At the end of the preparation, if at least one parent is willing to make the promises in the Baptism service they may proceed, but Thanksgiving should be presented as a valid and attractive alternative. We cannot prove that people mean those promises, but we must make the meaning of them as clear as possible. If Thanksgiving is to be an alternative to Baptism is should be given equal weight with the child being taken in to the ministerís arms, and the giving of the same books, gospel etc.

Realistically, there is little contact with godparents before the service: they are often chosen before the approach is made to Emmanuel, and live at a distance (not infrequently they are overseas family members). The initial application form deliberately does not ask for the names and addresses of godparents in order not to raise false hopes, but if a baptism is going ahead we should then ask for the godparents' names and addresses and send them some information about the service and its meaning.


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