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What's the difference between Baptism, christening and Dedication?

(17 Posts)
NotInTheMood Thu 16-Feb-12 13:14:12

My children are 4 and 7 years old and I've wanted to get them christened and to teach them about the christening faith. I think they are old enough to understand what it all means. I've recently attended a baptist church and they mentioned about a dedication ceremony. Its early days yet as I've not been at the church long enough to say this is the right church for me and my family. However, the idea of my children being baptised or dedicated has interested me. Does the out come mean the same thing in terms of being accepted by god, is it recognised by other churches or religious schools? If I do this I want to be dedicated to the church and take it on seriously and not just for tradition.

NotInTheMood Thu 16-Feb-12 13:14:42

'christian' faith I mean sorry children are arguing!!

mosschops30 Thu 16-Feb-12 13:20:31

Baptism is catholic
Christened is protestant.
Afaik baptist churches dont recieve children into the church, they have to be older to understand the process

EdithWeston Thu 16-Feb-12 13:21:29

Baptism and Christening are largely interchangeable terms (some denominations lean to one or t'other).

Many denominations baptise infants, with Godparents and parents making vows on behalf of the child, and when that child grows up, if they wish, they are then are confirmed into their faith by making the vows themselves.

Baptists baptise (by full immersion) only those who make the vows on their own behalf (adults and teenagers). There is no separate confirmation. The dedication service will be a way of marking a child being welcomed into the church, even though not yet ready to make vows themselves.

DavidaCottonmouth Thu 16-Feb-12 13:27:02

Baptism and Christening are the same thing, although Christening is sometimes used for babies - it is still a baptism though. Churches will usually use the term Baptism.

A Dedication or Thanksgiving is thanking God for the safe birth/arrival of a child. It does not have the promises that Baptism has. The child would bring themselves to Baptism when they are older and able to make the promises for themselves.

Baptism is a sacrament - an outward sign of an inward grace. A Dedication is more of a prayer/worship, and it is expected/hoped that Baptism will follow in due course.

As for priority in school admissions, some will only consider Baptism, others will consider Dedication or Thanksgiving on the same footing or a priority below. You have to look at the individual school's criteria.

EmmaCate Thu 16-Feb-12 13:31:38

In my experience (I am a Christian but not an expert in theology), baptism and christening are the same thing, although you could perhaps differentiate the use of each term by age - children or babies are usually referred to as being christened; if you are christened as an adult it's more usual to refer to it as a baptism. Either way this happens before you are confirmed - this is when you independently confirm your belief in the Christian faith.

Baptism/christening means you are welcomed into the faith of the Christian church and you have godparents to help guide you in the development of your faith. Usually it's not your decision; that's why there's the confirmation service later, once people are mature enough to know they definitely want to be part of the Christian faith.

I have not heard of a dedication service - sounds more like something that is done to an object or a building than a person. Catholics usually don't allow non-Catholics to take mass in their churches but Anglican churches generally allow all Christians to take mass. I think this ethic would hold for church schools too. From what I've seen on admissions policies for schools linked to CofE churches, children that attend the specific church are prioritised over those who don't, but children that attend other churches in the area are prioritised over those who don't attend at all.

roisin Thu 16-Feb-12 13:50:27

I go to a Baptist Church. We do dedication services for babies - a thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the child and a blessing on those who will be caring for them. I have never known a dedication service for a child older than about 18 months.

Then when people are old enough to make a decision for themselves, (usually aged c.13-90!), they can choose to be baptised - usually by total immersion - and make promises for themselves. (Rather than have promises made on their behalf by parents and godparents.)

Neither of my boys (12 and 14) have been baptised. The younger one is involved in Anglican church music, but his unbaptised status has not (yet) caused any sort of obstacle.

Our local church school is RC. They prioritise first those with links to RC churches and schools. But after that they prioritise people with current and genuine links to other churches (ie regular attenders), and have discriminated between those from an Anglican background (who would be baptised) and those from a Baptist background (who would not.)

Ladymuck Thu 16-Feb-12 13:50:46

A baptist church will not usually baptise children. They baptise "believers", typically adults but could be teenagers or older children who understand what it means to repent and believe.

At a christening or baptism of infants it is the parents who make the promises and confess to their own faith as the infant is unable to do so. Once the infant is old enough they then go through confirmation, so that they confess their own faith.

THere is no record in the Bible of the practise of baptising infants, only adults. The practise grew partly out of a belief that if an unbaptised infant died they would not go to heaven. But the practise continues as in part church communities want to welcome infants into their community, and it is a time of celebration. Churches who therefore keep to a stricter biblical interpretation of baptism will offer a dedication service, which is similar to a christening where the parent thank God for the safe birth of the child and promise to bring them up to know God.

Usually a dedication service will not count as a baptism for other churches.

Wants3 Thu 16-Feb-12 13:51:57

I belong to a baptist church, a dedication service is where a new baby is welcomed into the church family and the church members promise to support the family raising the child in the Christian faith. Adults, when they have made the decision that they want to become a Christian are baptised( fully immersed in water).

DavidaCottonmouth Thu 16-Feb-12 13:54:12


There are reports in the bible of whole households being baptised. You would expect these households to include children, would you not?

NotInTheMood Thu 16-Feb-12 14:03:55

Ok so the belief that not having your child christened means your child will not got go to heaven is not true? Wow it all seems confusing tbh. I wanted to christen my children but to be honest I couldn't choose any gp's that I though were up to it. Now they are older and I do to talk to my children about God etc the eldest is asking questions and seems to believe and so I want to nurture that. I feel guilty for not christening them when they were younger tbh. I am not sure which is the best way of doing it.

Ladymuck Thu 16-Feb-12 14:04:02

No, I wouldn't expect too many infants to have been immersed! I wouldn't have expected anyone to have been baptised against their will or knowledge. But obviously it is a fairly divisive issue as otherwise I suspect the Baptist church may not have chosen to distinguish themselves by name in this way!

Ladymuck Thu 16-Feb-12 14:06:06

"Ok so the belief that not having your child christened means your child will not got go to heaven is not true?"

It is a belief. Not everyone shares the belief, but lots of people do. You need to decide what you believe.

DavidaCottonmouth Thu 16-Feb-12 14:17:24


Baptism is about becoming a member of the worldwide church.

Some Christians take this further and believe in 'baptismal regeneration', but this is quite a stretch of both scripture and human experience.

mummytime Thu 16-Feb-12 14:18:15

Most churches do not believe that someone who is not baptised will necessarily go to heaven (even Cathloics nowadays).
Some churches do baptise children by full immersion, eg. Orthodox.
Some people use davidas bible verse to justify infant baptism, others eg. Baptists and others in other denominations, don't accept it as strong enough evidence. This is why although they have attended a C of E church since babyhood, my kids haven't been christened (and I know Vicars's whose children have also not been Christened).

thejaffacakesareonme Thu 16-Feb-12 15:01:36

Depending on the church you may not need godparents. I was christened and don't have any. Neither do my two kids who have both been christened.

nickelDorritt Thu 16-Feb-12 15:06:27

My vicar (cofe) told me that christening was Catholic.
it's the same thing as baptism, but it usually includes a naming part too.
These days, the terms are completely interchangeable.

So both of those involved godparents making a promise for a child to help them be christians, or for an older person to make promises for themselves to be christians. They are welcomed into the family of the church officially.

Dedictations are like a thanksgiving of birth, and are generally used by denominations other than CofE or Catholic, to promise on behalf of the child to help them live in a christian way but they don't become christians. These denominations usually do adult baptisms instead.

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