The order of service below
comes from The Church of the Holy Family, Blackbird Leys, Oxford, which is a
Local Ecumenical Partnership of four denominations: Anglican, Baptist,
Methodist and United Reformed. The
Church covers a UPA estate of population 14,000, and has an Anglican priest
(James Ramsay) and a Free Church Minister (vacant, but formerly Brenda Wilson,
who is now at Rickmansworth Baptist Church).
On and around the estate are several other denominations and church
groups, and part of the spirit of the Project is a real desire to reckon with
the diversity of Christian conviction at large.
James tells me that the service is used for 20-25 families (about 30
children) per annum, and is offered regularly once a month on a Sunday.
The church has resolved that all families should have this service
before considering any further service, and there is a leaflet which explains
that the Thanksgiving and Blessing is a first step to helping the family
decide if they would like to pursue any closer links with the church.
The service has succeeded in that the church wanted to keep an “open
policy” whereby something was always offered to families and they were never
turned away. It has also made a
useful bridge in helping the families settle a little into church, so that
when they come to baptism or dedication they aren’t coming completely out of
the cold into the service.
However, contrary to what the church envisaged when the service was
first introduced, most families do go on to request infant baptism (the clear
majority) or dedication (a few - a URC-based liturgy is used for this).
The church also intended to do much more individual visiting and
exploration with families, but has found the numbers unmanageable.
And what about the ecumenical dimension?
“Some Baptists accept the pastoral importance of infant baptism as
part of C of E tradition, but would not regard it as baptism in the full
sense,“ says James. “Part of
the costly task of ecumenism is accepting and working with the fact that we
really do see things differently.”
Having used the service for a few years, James would like to explore
some changes to it and its explanatory leaflet - good practice is worth
sharing and improving.
Creator God, source of all life, we give you thanks for the good things
we enjoy; especially we thank you for the precious gift of our child/children.
We thank you that, in making us man and woman, you give us a share in
the mystery of the creation of life. Amen.
We thank you for the skills and care of all who helped in the safe
delivery of these children. Amen.
We thank you for all who have supported and cared for them in this
first stage of their journey of life. Amen.
Forgive us that sometimes we take the good things for granted, we
misuse your gifts, and we hurt others. God
We bring you all our fears and hopes for the future,
praying for strength to overcome fear,
and for trust in your love that shall never fail us.
This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
READING and TALK.
God has entrusted you with the privilege and responsibility of bringing
up these children, to do your best for them, to provide not only for their
physical needs, but also for their emotional and spiritual development.
Will you be loving, responsible parents?
Will you raise your children in the spirit of Goodness and Truth?
Minister: (to family &
friends) Will you continue to
give care and support to these children and those who care for them day by
[Name], the Lord bless you and
keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you;
the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace.
May the love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself;
may the power of the Lord
Jesus strengthen you in his service;
may the joy of the Lord Jesus
fill your heart and mind and spirit;
and may the blessing of God
almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain
with you always. Amen.
Almighty God, we pray for a calm strength and patience wisdom, to bring
up our children to love what is just, and true, and good, following the
example and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All-loving God, in this troubled world, give us wisdom and
understanding, to help these families and their children grow up.
Surround them with the light of your truth and warmth of your love, in
the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Holy God, help us to remember that we are all your children, and you
care for us equally. So we pray, as Jesus taught us: Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name; Your kingdom come; your will be done, on earth as in
heaven. Give us today our daily
bread; Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us; And lead
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For the Kingdom, the Power,
and the Glory are yours, now and for ever.
See Also Articles by Rev S
Corbett and Kevin