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.