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An outstanding practical book on baptismal policy and practice

 

Connecting with Baptism

Mark Earey, Trevor Lloyd and Ian Tarrant

Reviews and Comment

A Brief Review from the Amazon Site

This is an astonishingly good book. Anyone who has the slighted interest in making Baptism better than folk religion should study this.

It is, as the authors say, a "dip in" book. The excellent index is sure to have the issue you are facing, and from that you will find excellent cross references. For example Canon Law is set out under appropriate headings enabling the reader to learn about reasons for delay, qualification of Godparents, and even proxy godparents.

It has really helpful case histories setting out policies ranging from a mandatory "Thanksgiving for all first" to a far more "open" policy.

There is a lot about the choices available to parents between Thanksgiving and Baptism with the pros and cons well set-out.

What I particularly like is the "flow charts" showing the progression from first contact through to pilgrimage.

I could go on and on - but here is an admirably balanced book blending theology and practice in a most sensitive way.

Roger Goidn

 

Mail on Line Jan 6 09

Church of England launches campaign to counter steep decline in baptisms

By STEVE DOUGHTY
Last updated at 22:41 02 October 2007

The Church of England has launched a campaign to make baptisms more popular after it was revealed that the number has halved in 15 years.

Fewer than one in six of all infants is now baptised and in major cities the number has fallen to one in ten.

A book of guidance is being sent to clergy asking them to modernise their approach. One suggestion is that they make cohabiting couples feel more welcome, with a view to encouraging them to

Only one in six children is now baptised

The guide says: "For some families today, the baptism of a child represents an opportunity for the first public acknowledgement of the parents' relationship. Churches can use this as an opportunity to promote marriage."

Just over 15 per cent of babies were christened into the CofE in 2005. The total of 93,000 Anglican baptisms was just over half the 184,000 as recently as 1990, they revealed.

In the early 1930s seven out of ten of all children were baptised into the Cof E. More than a third were still christened in the early 1980s. Latest figures show that the popularity of christenings remains high in the countryside and some provincial towns but that in London and Birmingham fewer than one in ten babies are baptised.

The guidance, Connecting with Baptism, showed that the highest number of christenings is in Carlisle , where more than 40 per cent of babies are baptised.

"Significantly more infant baptisms as a proportion of births take place in rural dioceses such as Carlisle, Hereford and Lincoln ," it said.

The drop in baptisms mirrors a long-term decline in church attendance overall. The CofE saw its figures for Sunday attendance drop below the million mark at around the turn of the millennium. Roman Catholic churches in much of the country have also seen a fall.

However large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe has meant some Catholic churches in London are overflowing on a Sunday.

 

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below?       

As a committed Christian within the CofE I'm not at all concerned that infant baptisms continue to fall - if that stops people with no intention of living out the very serious promises they make at the baptism, and yet are never seen again.
But I agree everyone should be made to feel welcome, and where a parent simply wants to thank God for the new life, there is the Thanksgiving Service which enables people to promise to help the child spiritually. Not a "second class" baptism, but a first class alternative without perjury!
Baptism of the children of unbelievers means nothing, and the child is no better or worse off. Far better to wait until the children can make the serious promises themselves if they want to. That DOES mean something.

- Roger, Taunton Somerset, 03/10/2007 16:01       

Christening/Baptism is an old fashioned concept. These days, few people see the logic in Christening if they're not regular church going christians.

It was once considered the "done thing", but with fewer and fewer people being particularly religious this is being reflected in this downward trend.

In any case, is it ethical to force baptism/christening onto a young person who is not able to decide for himself whether or not he wishes to pursue such beleifs? Better to let them wait till they're old enough to decide for themselves.

- Simon Taylor, Boston , Lincs , UK , 03/10/2007 15:48       

Ahh ... actually it isn't a campaign to make baptisms more popular. The book is about the trends in Britain today, and its message really is that "baptism is about starting as you mean to go on". If you really do want to be a follower of Jesus, then repent and be baptized - if you don't, then don't, and be honest about it!

But what the book does try to do is to help churches meet the needs of those who genuinely do want to investigate spiritual things, discover whether there is a God, and find a relationship with him. That's what churches have always been supposed to be about, and I hope the book will help us do it better.

- Rev'd John Hartley , Eccleshill, Bradford, West Yorkshire , 03/10/2007 14:42

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