How do non church-goers get their children Christened?

(42 Posts)

Just that really. Moved to a new area (again) and I we are planning on settling here now. Woukd like to get our baby christened as he's already walking and chosen God Parents are about to give up on us.

Never were big church goers but tend to spend a couple of years dipping in and out of various ones before we get a regular (didn't mean it to sound so similar to going to the pub. Sorry).

But I don't want to wait that long and I'm beginning to feel Gods impatience.

Gerbilectomy Sun 29-Sep-13 00:15:57

Why on earth would a non-churchgoer want to have her child christened?

prayerbook Sun 29-Sep-13 00:16:19

Either ring the local church and speak to the vicar or administrator or turn up on a Sunday and catch them after the service. If you live in the parish they have an obligation to baptise your child. They may want you to attend church regularly before the baptism is arranged or may do some other preparation.
Hope you get a warm welcome.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 29-Sep-13 00:20:09

Non church-goers do it the same way as regular church-goers. We contact our local vicar and arrange it. I may not go to church much but my children are being christened the same as I was. It's traditional more than anything.

Oh. Good idea to ring them thanks.

Gerbil, Jesus want my children Christened. Tain't THEIR fault if their parents don't like churches now is it?

<Should have go it done in the hospice when vicar offered......>

OhDearNigel Sun 29-Sep-13 00:20:45

Maybe they are Christians but don't attend a church, Gerbil. I have always been a Christian but have had periods of several years where I did not attend communal worship

Starlight, I would suggest maybe going to some family services in churches near you, feeling the atmosphere and going from there. Go along a few times and then bring up the topic with the vicar. Most churches have websites, I have found these quite a good way to get a feel for the ethos of the church (eg. King James Bible, happy clappy etc)

Gerbilectomy Sun 29-Sep-13 00:21:48

Meh. It all sounds a bit 'lifestyle' to me.

Do what you like - churches aren't generally difficult to join.

I don't want to join a church. I want my child Christened. I 'might' join a church for other reasons, but not for Christening purposes, but I know it coukd take me years to find one my family could tolerate. It's doing the 'peace' that freaks me out and my son with ASD freaks everyone else out. It woukd take time.

apprenticemamma Sun 29-Sep-13 00:59:20

Adding my tuppence in. I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to Christen your child, practice/teach Christian values to them not rot in hell for not practicing communal worship. It works for us. We christened ds in my home town where I grew up, I will do the same with dc 2.

MaryBS Sun 29-Sep-13 09:18:28

In our church we do baptise children of non-churchgoers, although we would generally ask a few questions on why you'd like your child baptised. More and more churches are becoming ASD friendly. My son is Aspie, and they are very accepting of him and his quirks. All you can do is try phoning the church and seeing how they'd respond. If they have a website, that might give you some indication of how welcoming they'd be.

meditrina Sun 29-Sep-13 09:23:55

" If you live in the parish they have an obligation to baptise your child."

This isn't true. Your CofE church has an obligation to marry anyone who lives in the parish, because marriage itself is a mix of national and church law and sacrament.

Baptism is sacrament, not law of the land, and it is at the discretion of the vicar (and/or the bishop if you escalate) whether to carry it out. Most will, but you have no right to insist.

"They may want you to attend church regularly before the baptism is arranged or may do some other preparation."

Very likely.

"Hope you get a warm welcome."

So do I!

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 09:27:05

Most people who had their babies baptised at the churches that I have been to in the past are people we had never seen before and never saw again. It shouldn't be a problem.

Most of the babies I baptise are from families which don't come to church. We have an afternoon service once a month that some of our baptism families come to is aimed at parents and children as it is designed for people who have little background in faith so we explain stuff and have fun with it. The morning service is still a bit formal for most families.

There are some heavy promises in the baptism service but once I've had a stab at explaining what it is about and people are happy to say them then I'm happy to baptise.

Communal worship is an important part of Christianity and I'd love it if more people came, but I can see that mornings don't always work for people with small children so that is why we created an afternoon service.

Just start going to your neighbourhood churches. You will soon see which one you like and feel welcome to. When you have picked one you like, based on seeing their activities, whether they have nice childrens liturgies, a creche, etc, do community stuff that you like, you give them a call.

birdybear Sun 29-Sep-13 09:35:51

Jesus doesn't want them christened! Where in the bible or anywhere else do you get that from? It is imply meaningless tradition! The child doesn't even know what's going on! And i say that as a practising Christian. (my ds is going to be dedicated next month!)

"my ds is going to be dedicated next month!" Another meaningless tradition to benefit the parents, eh?

DropYourSword Sun 29-Sep-13 09:51:31

I can't understand why you would want to if you don't attend church? Seems a bizarre decision to me!

Jesus want my children baptised. This is my belief.

I'm not sure I need stuff explaining, not at the basic level anyway. My DH and I were confirmed a few years ago and my other children are christened. I've also attended various bible study classes. However I don't 'mind' going over it again if the vicar can handle my family in his/her church.

I understand why Communal Worship is important, but for those of us that can't do it for many reasons, God will do home visits.

There are many denominations of Christianity, and they have different viewpoints of baptism. Some do dedications and adult baptism as they interpret their bible thus. Others believe in infant/child baptism.

Catholics often emphasize what Peter says.
Peter explained what happens at baptism "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The teaching was not restricted to adults. "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (2:39). We also read: "Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).

These commands are not restricted to adults. There is a necessary connection between baptism and salvation, a connection explicitly stated in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

As I have been brought up Lutheran, we go very much by
"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" (Luke 18:15-17).
This is the main point of the baptism and any children's liturgy in a Lutheran church.

I think this Lutheran website discusses the issue well:

However, so much about faith cant be explained or reasoned with, and I would not see anything strange in a non-church goer having a feeling that God wants her children baptized. I see that as OP saying that there is something in her telling her that she should open up the door to Jesus for her child, and that can never be a bad thing!

"God will do home visits"

I totally agree that you can meet with God outside regular communal worship.

Thanks Quint. I hope I meet you in my church research. I may well stay then.........

It's such a shame that we had to move so much. Where we thought we were going to live forever had a great church and we had a good relationship with the tutters at the back when we brought our children (so easily bought with child-made crafts).

Perhaps we can have that again, though the reasons for our move made me fall out with God a bit. Though I am at liberty to cut off my nose to spite my face that doesn't extend to refusing Him my children.

birdybear Sun 29-Sep-13 12:50:29

Quintessentialshadows, a christening is people promising on behalf of the child something that the child knows nothing about and therefore are not making an informed choice to follow God, usually with non Christian god parents making promises they have no intentions of keeping.
A dedication is thanking God for the child, and asking for the help of the church to raise that child in a Christian family and then when the child is old enough to understand the beliefs, they can choose to believe if they wish to. Also just to ask God to look after and bless the child and the family in raising the child.
Very different :-)

Birdy, some very sweeping statements about Christenings there, and parents' reasoning behind a Christening. Borderline insulting. Remember, it is just different ways of doing things. I have not dissed the ways of the Vineyard, or other baptist Churches.

I think you will find that most Christians have the same intentions for the child whether they bring them to a Christening or a dedication.
The issue of the "non-consenting" child is addressed later.

Dont forget that christened children who are old enough to decide for themselves go through a confirmation. Catholic children have both First Holy Communion and Confirmations, both of which serve to teach the child about faith, ethics and the bible.

Just as you will find some people bringing their child to a Christening with no intention of actually bringing the child up as a Christian, you will find people going through adult baptism for whatever reason, and who may not follow up on the faith side. I would say, these people are not actually Christians even if they go through with a ritual based in faith. You cant blame the actual Church for that. Nor other Christians, be they baptists or CofE or Catholics, or whatever denomination.

In England you have a right to be baptised in the C of E church in the parish in which you live. The only reason to delay is in Canon (the law of the church) B22.4:

"No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed."

There are differing views about baptising babies in the C of E (and in the wider church) and some vicars/rectors will interpret the canon to mean that parents should be making a commitment to faith such as going on an alpha course or similar if they are not already members of the congregation of that church. Other churches are happy to baptise as long as the parents and godparents are happy to make the promises in good faith. I belong to the latter variety and had all of my three children baptised at around 6 months old.

Adult v infant baptism is one of those issues that can get Christians very hot under the collar....

If you want your baby/child baptised in a church outside of the parish you live in then the vicar/rector will usually suggest you go to your own parish where you have a right to be baptised. If you don't want to do that then they may suggest that you worship at that church for a period which could be up to six months and then you count as a member of the congregation and the baptism can go ahead.

meditrina Sun 29-Sep-13 18:37:02

Canonical law on baptisms here. Since 1960s, there has been no 'right' to baptism.

birdybear Sun 29-Sep-13 19:25:44

QuintessentialShadows, i didn't make any sweeping generalisations about parents' reasoning behind a Christening. In fact i didn't comment or mention any reasons at all! I just said what a christening and a dedication is. I can if you want to, but its fairly obvious i think.

I agree people have different ways of doing things and that is their choice, however i stand by what i say that the majority of people having their children christened are not christians (although they may say they are)and do not have any intention of bringing up the child in a christian family.

The point i was making is that the child is not choosing their faith. With a dedication you are not choosing that child's faith either. As you mention adult baptism, i think there are very few adults who choose to be baptised as adults and don't then follow their faith going forward.

So, Jesus doesn't care about christenings (or dedications either!) they are both just ceremonies but my point for the OP was children matter to God and he doesn't get impatient with them, which is what the OP said.

Oh good a discussion on canon law! When I was at theological college it was made very clear to those training as clergy that we could not refuse to baptise a baby or child whose parents requested it if they lived in the parish and had their Godparents ready and willing. It is certainly the case that some clergy (including the bishop whose campaigning organisation Baptism Integrity was quoted on page 1) would prefer to only baptise children of regular church attenders or go the whole hog and keep baptism for adults with dedications for babies but this rather excellent site points out that this goes against canon law.


Blimey, I'd a vicar insists we attend for 6 months you can be sure when 6 months has passed I will feel I have paid my dues and never set foot in there again.

I said God is getting impatient with me. The God parents certainly are which I am taking as HIs word. No-one is getting impatient with my children except me at times. I don't believe He woukd treat them any diffetently should they need to enter His Kingdom un-christened . His beef would be with me, not them, as it is about my attendance at church or otherwise.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Really?

So, you would baptize my friends child?
He is a divorced Catholic.
His new partner (also Catholic in name at least) is married still - they are working on an amicable divorce.

If this young couple came to your CofE Church to baptize their child, you would welcome them?

If they were in your parish, hypothetically speaking

birdybear Sun 29-Sep-13 20:15:34

What is about your attendance at church op ? I really don't understand why you want them christened but Will never set foot in the church again after? Why not? What makes you think God is getting impatient with you? I am very confused as to what you believe.

God couldn't give a monkeys whether someone is christened, dedicated, baptised or what. What God wants is a relationship with you, where you accept his love and have a relationship with him. Traditions are not important.

My mother had a right panic about my children, she firmly believed God would not know them, and not love them until they had been baptized. And if they were to die before baptizm, they would be condemned in the same way as a non-believer. confused hmm

Most people of the same school of Lutheran (Læstadian) faith as her believed similar which is why they had a habit of popping into the hospital chapel for the Christening on the way out! No ceremony and no celebration, just a quickie for the road!

QuintessentialShadows if your friends came to my church of course I would welcome them. If they wanted their child baptised into the Church of England then yes that could happen but changing denominations is a big thing to do so there would be more to talk about in baptism preparation.

I think they are both disillusioned by the Catholic church, but Christian if you see what I mean.

I will set foot in a church again. I hope one day to find the right one, get over some of the aspects of going to church that panic me and make my peace with God enough to mean what I say in the liturgy.

I would however, go under sufferance for a vicar who insisted I attended and feel I'd 'done time' as payment for their services and feel relieved of my obligations thereafter.

Because I feel a duty to my 3rd child to not be the only member of my family not Christened and risk him believe that neither he nor being a Christian is important.

nooka Sun 29-Sep-13 20:47:45

Starlight getting christened is about being welcomed into the church community, so it's not really that odd for a church to feel that the families of those getting christened to make some sort of commitment before the ceremony. I would suspect that these 'rules' are n place simply to put off people who are purely getting their children christened in order to have the certificate for a preferred school, or for an excuse for a party.

I'm an atheist so neither of my children are christened (although my mother finds that sad and my sister and brother in law would perform the ceremony no doubt). It is an important ceremony with fairly serious vows and should not I think be taken as lightly as many parents seem to.

No it isn't. It is about being welcomed into the Christian Family.

Otherwise why would the vicar at a hospice 200 miles from where we live have offered to do it?

And how does it work for travellers and other people (like us) who have had to move so much.

mnistooaddictive Sun 29-Sep-13 21:03:04

Christening isn't biblical it was introduced when childhood mortality was high and I believe it was based in a misunderstanding of the bible. The bible talks about baptism of adults.

Was it not introduced as an alternative to circumcision?

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