The birth of some children is carefully planned; others come as a surprise.
But it is always a wonderful privilege - and a great responsibility - to care
for a young child.
So it’s very natural to want to give thanks to God for one of the greatest
gifts he has ever given you, and to ask for his blessing on your child and your
We will be delighted to arrange a service for your child.
Things have changed a little in the Church since we were children ourselves.
Parents now have two options.
You can choose to have a Thanksgiving Service only for your child. This is
described in greater detail on pages 4 and 5 of this booklet.
Or you can choose to have a Thanksgiving Service, followed some weeks later
by a Baptism Service. The Baptism Service is described on pages 6 and 7.
Every child, therefore, has a Thanksgiving Service. Some families choose to
have a Baptism as well; other families feel that the Thanksgiving alone is more
suitable for them.
The purpose of this booklet is to explain these two options.
On the back page it also gives guidance on Choosing Godparents. Please read
the booklet carefully.
In a few days time, you will be telephoned by a couple from
the Church who will arrange to visit you in your home.
They can answer questions you may have about your choice of
Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving and Baptism. They will also give you a simple
Application form to fill in at your leisure and return to the Church Office
(address on the form).
COMING TO CHURCH
We strongly encourage you to come as a family to All
Saints on Chapel Green or St. Richard’s (Fermor Road) as often as ‘You can
over the next weeks.
Thanksgivings and Baptisms are now always part of ordinary
Sunday services, and you will very likely see one in action and understand it
In addition, many families start coming to Church after the
birth of a child because they know they will need God’s help in caring for
their new member. Coming to All Saints or St. Richard’s for several weeks will
help you decide whether you want to make the knowledge of Christ’s love part
of your family life.
The main services are:
All Saints, 10.45am; St. Richard’s 11.00am.
Babies are very welcome; we like their noise! There is a room
at the back for feeding a child in privacy.
OPTION ONE: THE THANKSGIVING SERVICE
Thanksgivings take place within a normal Sunday service.
They are very happy occasions and quite brief. The whole service will last about
an hour; the Thanksgiving will be about 5 minutes of that hour.
There are three principal ingredients in a Thanksgiving
1. Thanking God.
As the name suggests, the whole purpose of the service is to
say a heartfelt thank you to God for his wonderful gift to you of your child.
The Vicar will say these prayers on your behalf.
2. Praying for your family
We will pray for your child, for any other children you may
already have and especially for you as parents, in your responsibility of
bringing up this child.
3. Receiving a book
You will be given an illustrated book called ‘Jesus’,
about the life of Christ. This is:
• as a permanent reminder of the Thanksgiving Service
• for you yourselves to read as soon as possible, to
understand Christ and his teaching more fully
• for you to read to your child in a few year’s
time, when (s)he is old enough to understand
We can also give you a free video of the feature-length film
‘Jesus’ which is illustrated in the book. Phone the Church Office for a
copy: Tel 652081.
We encourage you to invite as many people as you like to the Thanksgiving
Service: Godparents, Grandparents, Family
Members, Neighbours and Friends. Often people have a big party afterwards.
The child can of course come dressed entirely as you like.
Some parents bring their child in a long Christening robe; other bring them
in their ordinary clothes.
There is no fee for a Thanksgiving Service.
WHY THANKSGIVING ALONE?
There are probably 3 main reasons why an increasing number of families choose
the option of a Thanksgiving Service only:
1. They simply want to give thanks to God for their child. This is their main
wish and they have no desire to do anything more.
2. They are making no promises. In the Baptism Service
parents make some very serious promises and commitments (see next two pages);
there are no promises made when parents opt for a Thanksgiving alone.
3. They would prefer their child to experience baptism when
is older. Parents may still pray with their child, read them Bible stories and
tell them about Jesus. But the child will experience being baptised, and later
be able to remember it. All sorts of people are now choosing this option.
OPTION TWO: THANKSGIVING AND BAPTISM
Baptisms also take place within a normal Sunday service;
this is now the standard practice throughout the Church of England. The whole
service will last about an hour; the Baptism will be about 7 minutes of that
There are three principal ingredients in a Baptism Service:
1. Parents and Godparents make promises
At three points in the Baptism Service, parents and
godparents together make promises to God about their own Christian faith and
about bringing up their children to know Christ and to come regularly to Church.
2. Water is poured over the child
The Vicar will take your child into his arms and pour water
three times over the child’s head, baptising ‘in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’.
3. The child is welcomed into the Church Family
In Baptism you will be making a commitment to bring up your
child as a member of the Church community. So the whole congregation welcomes
its newest member.
Quite rightly, people want to know what promises they will be
making to God, so that they can decide whether Baptism will be right for their
Essentially you will be making 4 promises:
1. To pray regularly for your child.
2. To teach your child about Jesus: his life, teaching,
death and rising again to new life.
3. To come to
church from now on as a family at least once a month.
4. To bring your
child to Sunday School at least from the age of three.
You will be given a beautifully produced Certificate to show
that your child has been baptised and that you have made these promises. You
will sign the Certificate, to show that you accept these commitments.
There is no fee for the service or the Certificate. You can
have the Certificate framed for a small charge.
There is a lot to consider in deciding to have a Baptism for
your child. A young couple from the Church, with children of their own, hold
three relaxed preparation evenings in their own home; you will need to go to
these and can of course bring your baby along. Several parents only decide
during these preparation evenings whether to ask for a Baptism for their child.
WHY THANKSGIVING AND BAPTISM?
There are two main reasons why families choose the option of
Thanksgiving and Baptism:
1. They want to make promises before God. Many couples feel
they made promises before God at their wedding, and this has helped them to be
better husbands and wives. Now they want to make promises before God after the
birth of their child, because they feel this will help them to be better
2 They want to become part of All Saints and St. Richard’s.
Baptism is a way of identifying you and your family with your local church. Many
couples want to do this after their child has been born, even if they have not
been regular churchgoers in the past. This is incidentally why baptism almost
always takes place in the parish where you live.
It is normal to have Godparents, whichever option you
Thanksgiving Service only or Thanksgiving followed by
You may have as many Godparents as you want for your child.
Traditionally, a boy has two Godfathers and one Godmother; a girl has two
Godmothers and one Godfather.
You may have chosen Guardians for your child, people who
would bring up your child if something happened to you. It is not necessary for
the Guardian to be the child’s Godparent; they have quite different roles.
WHAT DO THEY DO?
All Godparents promise to help your family in two ways:
1. To Care for your child, taking a special interest in
2. To Pray for your child, asking God to bless your family.
GODPARENTS AND THE BAPTISM SERVICE
If you choose to have Baptism as well as Thanksgiving, the
Godparents also promise:
3. To Encourage your child to learn about Christ and to
join the local Church.
If you choose the second option (Thanksgiving and Baptism)
the Godparents must themselves be baptised. We will send them a letter
explaining their responsibilities. If they are living near Crowborough, we will
invite them to join with you in the Preparation Evenings; and we will give them
a card as a reminder of the Baptism Service.