INSERT: Name of Parish/Church
INCUMBENT’S POLICY FOR THE
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you”
Matthew 28: 19-20
1.1 The Church of
England in its official formularies affirms the authority of holy Scripture as
containing “all things necessary to salvation” [Article 6]. The Incumbent
of the Parish of INSERT: Name of Parish/Church, supported by the PCC, is committed
to a policy and practice of Baptism that is consistent with God’s revealed will
1.2 In accordance
with the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 28: 19-20 (and received by the
Church), this Policy understands Baptism to be a Sacrament of Trinitarian
mission – an essential part of the event and/or process by which people become
disciples of Jesus Christ, children of his heavenly Father and receivers of the
gift of the Holy Spirit.
1.3 We understand
the scriptural meaning of baptism in terms of the following:-
(a) Forgiveness and cleansing from sin (Acts
(b) Belonging to and being identified with
Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3)
(c) Sharing in the death and resurrection of
Christ (Rom 6: 3-5; Col
(d) The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
(e) New birth to adoption and sonship (Gal
(f) Membership of the body of Christ (1 Cor
1.4 In accordance
with Article 27, the practice of Baptism of “young children”
is to be retained where parents (and godparents or sponsors) are willing and
able, in all conscience, to affirm and profess the Trinitarian faith of the
Church and undertake their responsibility to bring up their baptised children within the fellowship,
prayer and worship of the Church. This
should be known as “Christian Family
Baptism”. Scripturally, there is no
such thing as “infant baptism”.
scriptural basis and appropriate context for Christian Family Baptism is
That is “the faith of the Church as
mediated by believing parents, other sponsors, and other Christians.”
1.6 We also
affirm and respect the preference of some parents who wish to leave the baptism
of their children until later years (this being entirely consistent with
1.7 In the case
of adults and children who come for baptism, we encourage the practice of
baptism by immersion for which provision will be made. The meaning of the Greek verb “baptizo” implies submersion in
water, and it is probable that Jesus himself received the Baptism of John by
2. OUR MISSIONARY CONTEXT
2.1 The post-Christendom and post-modern nature
of the culture around us is to be recognised.
We therefore aim to respond to all enquiries for Baptism in ways which preserve
the theological integrity of Baptism as a sacramental sign of membership of the
church, while aiming with pastoral sensitivity to engage with people where they
2.2 It is recognised that people often come to
faith in Jesus Christ through a process of:-
2.3 Baptism – scripturally understood – comes
at the point of believing (for oneself or, in the case of Christian Family
Baptism, as a Christian household).
2.4 Again, in accordance with Matthew 28:
19-20, we recognises the necessity of baptism following profession of faith
(rather than preceding it).
2.5 In the case of the baptism of babies and
very young children, this requires the support of at least one believing
parent. We concur with the view of wider
world-wide Anglicanism as expressed in the so-called “Toronto Statement” – Walk
in Newness of Life: “Parents who have not participated actively
in the eucharistic fellowship should be integrated into the worshipping
community prior to the baptism of their children. Efforts to encourage a family’s active
participation in the community after the child’s baptism are predictably
unsuccessful where a parent has not already been integrated.”
2.6 That said, we promote the creative and
sensitive use of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child in
Common Worship. We will aim to be as
flexible as is reasonably possible to the needs and requests of the family in
offering this rite. This we see as an appropriate first step into the stage of
“Belonging” (in however vague a sense) to the Church. The practice outlined below reflects this.
PRACTICE IN RESPECT OF APPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN FAMILY BAPTISM FROM
3.1 Initial enquiries may come through the
parish office, by telephone or by personal contact. A
leaflet and application for
Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child [TGC] should be given or sent to the
3.2 It may be that enquirers want to discuss
this before submitting an application.
If so, one of the clergy or a lay member of the Baptism Team (lay visitor) should visit or meet with the family.
receipt of an application, a lay visitor (ideally) or a clergy member will
visit to arrange a date for a TGC. The
lay visitor’s small group should,
where possible, be involved in prayer for,
and befriending of the family.
3.4 By agreement with the Vicar, a TGC may be
held in a Sunday morning service, on a Sunday afternoon in Church, in the
family home (at a mutually agreed time), or in another suitable venue on the
occasion of a gathering of the family and friends (eg. a hotel). It will usually be conducted by one of the
clergy, but when deemed appropriate a Reader might officiate. Members
of the small group that has been praying for the family should be encouraged
3.5 If, subsequent to the TGC rite, the family
express an interest in proceeding to
Christian Family Baptism, those who have had previous contact should visit
to (a) invite the family to begin attending church (if they have not already
done so), and (b) to attend a pre-Alpha course
(6-7 weeks duration). The relevant small
group should continue prayer support, care for the family in all kinds of
informal ways, and take care to invite them to any social occasions the group
3.6 Depending on demand (ie numbers), pre-Alpha courses will normally run
termly (ideally lay led). The aim here
is to present the Gospel in as accessible a way as possible. At its conclusion the family choose whether
to proceed with baptism, or defer. One
of the clergy will normally conclude the course with an evening on Baptism.
3.7 For a Baptism to proceed the requirements
of Canon B23 must be observed. That is that for each infant to be baptised
there should be three communicant
will take place in a morning service (either an all-age service or Morning
Worship, though preferably not Holy Communion).
3.9 Following Baptism, it is hoped that
families will be worshipping. This
should be encouraged. Attendance at an Alpha Course will be encouraged with a
view to parents being confirmed (if they have not already been so).
3.10 It is not our policy to baptise the children
of families resident outside of our parish – except in the case of those who
regularly worship at INSERT: Name of Parish/Church,
and whose names are on our electoral roll.
PRACTICE IN RESPECT OF APPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN FAMILY BAPTISM FROM CHURCH
4.1 The choice of whether to bring young
children either to Christian Family Baptism (CFB) or Thanksgiving for the Gift
of a Child (TGC) (sometimes called “Dedication”) is for the parents in
consultation with the Vicar.
4.2 Parents choosing CFB, might consider first
coming for TGI, the reason for this being that it promotes a sense of unity
across the congregation and parish – everyone beginning, as it were, from a
common starting point. This could have a
supportive impact upon the policy outlined (so far) above.
4.3 Preparation should be agreed with the Vicar
and be appropriate to the family concerned.
4.4 Baptisms will normally take place in a main
PRACTICE IN RESPECT OF OLDER CHILDREN
5.1 By “older children” we mean those able to
understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (in ways appropriate to
their age) and able to make the promises in the Baptism service for themselves.
5.2 Preparation for primary age children should
make use of the material in When a Child asks to be Baptised [or a suitable alternative]. Ideally, this should be done by the
parents. However, there might be
circumstances in which another adult might be appropriate (eg a
godparent). The clergy will be available
for support, and will meet with the child(ren) and parents prior to baptism.
5.3 Preparation for teenagers should be
conducted by the Youth Worker (involving others) in consultation with parents,
and with clergy in overall support and supervision. It is probably best for this to be done in a
group (using a course like Youth Alpha).
This might be done in conjunction with Confirmation preparation for
those teenagers baptised in infancy or early years.
5.4 Each child or teenage candidate should have
at least one “sponsor” who is a practising Christian.
5.5 Teenagers should normally be ready to be
confirmed as well a baptised.
5.6 The mode of Baptism will normally be by
immersion in a main service. Where this
takes place with Confirmation, the Bishop may wish to be the baptising
5.7 In the case of child or teenage candidates
whose parents do not worship with us, we would only baptise with their consent
and good will.
PRACTICE IN RESPECT OF ADULT CANDIDATES
6.1 Candidates for “adult” baptism should be
able to articulate their personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, a
relationship with God as Father, and an experience the Holy Spirit.
6.2 Clergy (or others) will be available to
provide preparation. New Christians
should have completed Alpha (or something similar).
6.3 Candidates should choose at least one
6.4 The mode will be immersion at the main
service, or a specially arranged service.
PRACTICE IN RESPECT OF PERSONS ALREADY BAPTISED REQUESTING “RE-BAPTISM”
7.1 Theologically (in Anglican terms), there is
only one Baptism whether administered in infancy or later years.
7.2 That said, we recognise that there is
sometimes a real pastoral issue here to which we have responsibility to
minister. People baptised very young, sometimes feel
that their baptism (which they can’t remember) is lacking, in some sense.
7.3 There are two options. (a) For some, the (purely verbal) renewal of
baptismal vows (either at a Baptism or Confirmation service) will suffice. (b)
Others may sense the need for something more than this; in such cases we
offer a renewal of baptismal vows with immersion in water.
7.4 Where this latter option is chosen it is
administered on the understanding that it is an experiential renewal of an existing
and valid baptism, for pastoral purposes.
As such, it makes up for a perceived lack – ie a personal profession of faith and the
experience of immersion in water.