Had a drubbing from the vicar, feeling bruised and guilty

(35 Posts)
Chestnut99 Sat 28-Sep-13 23:14:31

We went to discuss DD's christening with the vicar today.

DH and I are not serious believers, but we were both brought up as C of E christians and live life to that moral code. Although God has fallen out of the centre of this, we still want to bring our children up this way, and I feel strongly that I want our life events to have the thread of continuity and resonance which church services give us - using the same words for weddings, baptisms etc as our parents, grandparents, etc etc used, and being in spiritual places for these important moments.

The vicar - not our local one, as she is being christened in MIL's village - interrogated us pretty intensively about the extent of our faith and church going, asking us questions apparently designed to trip us up and made it pretty clear, without actually refusing to baptise her, that we weren't very welcome. He told DS, 4 this month (also christening in MIL's village but by a different vicar), that God and Jesus love him more than Mummy and Daddy, and that Jesus died because we all do bad things and need forgiveness. DS spends a lot of time asking/being concerned about death etc so this was not very helpful. I have started to tell DS bible stories but completely ducked Easter so far as too confusing.

I appreciate that to some people we absolutely are being frauds and hypocrites, but I find it depressing that we have today experienced the Church of England as an exclusive, unwelcoming, cultish sort of religion.

Anyway, have bought a children's bible to try to assuage the guilt this has left me with.

Sorry - rambling and ranting.

OhDearNigel Sun 29-Sep-13 00:11:47

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20

How does this vicar know that your DCs christening won't be the beginning of a journey of faith ? DD's certainly was for DH. I feel very upset for you OP. Church attendance is falling year on year, it's not as if we've got people beating a path to our door that they can afford to say "you are not welcome here".

Jesus welcomes everyone. The vicar's calling in life is, as racingheart eloquently put it, as a shepherd. Not to pass judgement on whether you are "religious" enough to cross the threshhold. I do sometimes wonder how so many of the clergy seem to completely forget the fundamental message of Christ

Chestnut99 I am sorry you had a bad experience with the vicar. It is genuinely sad that he did not want to be more friendly and welcoming. Churches in the Church of England are all quite different, they will have different styles and ways of doing things and you may well find that a different church of England church has a different approach.

If a church is connected to a school (for example) they may be more concerned about who they want to baptism (Christen) because of the school. Although personally, I do not think this should come into it.

It clearly is not a very sensitive thing to say to a young child that God loves him more than mummy or daddy, although what the vicar may have meant to convey was how great God's love is for us. Which is what, of course, what most Christians so believe.

Many Christians may not put the Christian message as crudely as "... Jesus died because we all do bad things and need forgiveness..." But to be honest that is very central to the Christian message, that we all make mistakes and that Jesus' death was the sacrifice made by God on our behalf. There are lots of ways of explaining this which make a lot more sense and clearly to many people, including people who post here, this is is not something that all people believe. However, the belief that Jesus is a sacrifice for us is very central to the Christian message and is part of what you are joining when you join the church, which what baptism (Christening) is.

In our current church (a free church) we do not baptise babies, we baptise adults and older children who have accepted the Christian faith for themselves. Parents can choose to have children dedicated and that is what DH and I did when our child was small even though we went to a Church of England church back then (some church of England churches will off this and ours did). When our daughter is older she will be able to make her own choice as to whether or not she gets baptised.

I really do hope this has not put you off finding a deeper faith, because I have found it to be really wonderful.

I just wanted to explain why some people in church might express things in this way, and although this is no excuse for rudeness etc, there are some in the church who do feel that baptism should be for those who genuinely want to be Christians. Being a Christian is not about being good or living by a Christian moral code (IMHO) it is about having a relationship with God through Christ.

I hope your daughter's Christening is a really special day and you will know there are many in the church who are really welcoming and always delighted to see new people and new children in church.

All best wishes.

I'm between services at the moment but wanted to say how sorry I am that you feel you have had a drubbing. Baptism is about a faith journey and we all start from different places but the direction of travel is what is important.

Zoe6789 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:44:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Sun 29-Sep-13 09:58:00

How horrid for you to feel so judged, and poor vicar to be so lost with it all.

As far as your dc goes, "Mummy and Daddy love you SO much. They loved you before you were born and they will love you good or bad forever. God is like a Father to us all and his love is infinite. He loves you and Mummy and Daddy. He has loved you since before you were born and he will love you, good or bad, forever."

Be very mindful that you and your family and the vicar are all equal in the eyes of God. I can see why the vicar might struggle with you feeling continuity was more of an issue fr you than Jesus, but I think you need to focus more on your intention to bring up a Christian child. The vicar is not a gatekeeper, he/she is more like a tour guide.

edam Sun 29-Sep-13 10:47:40

Btw, I've always found Methodists and Unitarians very welcoming of anyone who has been turned away by unfriendly CofE vicars who don't understand what their role is or what being the established church means.

Tuo Sun 29-Sep-13 12:18:18

I'm sorry you had such a hard time about your desire to have your DD baptised. I know that different denominations have different views on baptism, and I respect other people's approaches, but personally I firmly believe that baptism is about welcoming a new member into Christ's church, and that any reason parents have for bringing a child for baptism is 'good enough'. Baptism shouldn't be about you, the parents, having to prove yourselves, it's about you bringing your child to Jesus, and Jesus opening his arms to welcome her. And Jesus didn't set 'entrance tests' - he welcomed anyone who turned to him... whoever they were and whatever they might have done. This is also the message I've always got from my own church.

I've PMed you a link that you might find it reassuring to listen to. I hope you do.

Good luck!

Chestnut99 Sun 29-Sep-13 13:05:17

Thanks again all.

I had a solid Christian upbringing, extensive drilling in the bible and CofE rites and ways of doing things all through my childhood and through school, and I was confirmed, so I know that this man is not representative of the church. I know also that we are not seeking to have our daughter baptised for the "right" reasons from the perspective of many - we certainly haven't done a very good job so far of keeping our promises made at DS's christening. But we haven't done nothing about it and we do try to teach our DCs to live a good life based essentially on the Christian moral code, even if we don't call it that or turn up at church much.

To some extent the way he treated us has pulled me up by the bootstraps and I will make more of an effort to teach the DCs the bible stories, and we will say a prayer at bedtime etc and try to find a suitable service for children. But he certainly hasn't reignited what faith remained in me, quite the opposite.

Finally, this has nothing to do with trying to get anyone into a faith school, although DS is that age.

Chestnut99 Glad to hear this has not put you off altogether.

I hope you will find your faith reignited in other ways. It is not just about your kids, you know you are precious in God's sight, and just as you love your little ones so much, so God loves you. I am sorry this made you feel bad but it also seems that it has made you think. It is not just about a moral code but about a relationship. I wonder if something meditative like Julian of Norwich might make you connect with God more. Personally, that is why I think we have all these Bible stories etc. They are not just morality tales to tell us how to act better, in fact many stories in the Bible are able people who act really badly!

Bless you, not because you are trying to do the right thing, but because of who you are. grin.

Gingerdodger Mon 30-Sep-13 07:04:17

Whilst I can understand that it must be disheartening for members of the clergy when so many people opt for church weddings, baptisms etc and then never seem to come again it's really important that the church welcomes everyone with open arms and I am sorry you did not get this.

Please do not see this as a reflection on all churches and clergy. Many are working so hard to be family friendly and relevant it would be a real shame if this man turned you off.

The important thing to remember is vicar or not, he is just a man, he got it wrong this time, and he failed to represent God's welcome and love. Let God welcome you in and do it in whatever way feels right for you and your family

Ps does your Mum or someone you know attend this church? Would be good if someone were to give this man some feedback on how this made you feel.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now