Would like some opinions please. Trying to decide between Christening and Naming Ceremony
Really want to do something to celebrate my baby's arrival.
Reasons I'm doubting having Christening are that I am not a Christian(!) However, I have been Christened and confirmed and I do go to church regularly ( 1-2 times a month) I like our local church, it's a hub of the community and my older children go to the local church school and Sunday school. I'm happy for them to be educated in a Christian environment and I have a great respect for Christianity. I did an Alpha course a couple of years ago as I was interested in understanding a bit more. I'd describe myself as an agnostic with Christian leanings. It would be easy to do the Christening there. I know the vicar and lots of the people who go there.We are part of the church so from that point of view having my child Christened there makes sense. Most of my friends wouldn't dream of having their children christened though and we don't know many people who would be prepared to say the religious God parent vows. I know we ourselves could be Godparents though and the vicar would allow us to have non religious 'Godparents who didn't say the vows.
However, as I said I have not bought into it totally. I find organised religion too prescriptive for me and hard to believe wholesale. I'm aware there are other belief systems that have a lot going for them too.
I know I could just have a naming ceremony. That appeals as they seem so personal and moving and reflective of my wider beliefs and those of likely Godparents.
I think though that I might regret not having them Christened and as we are part of the 'Church Family' already in many ways it would feel odd to make a secular statement by doing a naming ceremony instead. Part of me wants to do both but DP says this would be overkill.
Confused.... ( I am going to talk this through with the vicar) but wondering what others thought?
Congratulations on your baby! You could have a Christening and a party afterwards, so that you have both a sacred and a secular celebration. In terms of belief you are pretty much where a lot of Christians are, and there is nothing wrong with that. You are part of a church family who will celebrate your baby and be joyful with you, and that is all that is needful really. And you can have a party afterwards (as most people who are having babies Christened do) and maybe say a few words there for the benefit of anybody who doesn't want to come to the church service. But talk it over with the vicar and see what she or he has to say.
With the disclaimer that I'm Pagan and a Christian might have a different take -
If you consider yourself to be part of the 'Church Family' culturally (which sounds like the case) then it would make sense to me to use the baby-welcoming ceremony traditional within that cultural community. It's not as if a Christening will actually force your child to be part of that religion forever with no option to decide for themselves later.
Most Christians from the long-standing traditions (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican) do believe Baptism or Christening to be the formal act of joining the Christian community and that through the waters of baptism we enter into a life-long relationship with Christ. I think it is important to understand and acknowledge what the wider community you are joining understands by this act. It is not a naming-ceremony for Christians it is a public entering into the church and community of believers.
It sounds to me from your description that you are actually way beyond a nominal Anglican relationship with the church as you and your family are actively involved. As a believing Christian (Catholic) I think it somewhat disingenuous to reinvent the wheel instead of embracing an established, caring and loving tradition rooted in your local community. If you genuinely do not believe in God I do not think you should have your child baptised. If you are on a journey into belief and you find the community a place of love then it would seem to make sense to celebrate a Christening.
You could do both because they are not the same things. A naming ceremony sounds like a public act of welcome for your child to your friends and family, while a baptism is formally acknowledging your child as a member of the Christian church and is in fact a sacrament in the Catholic church (a visible sign of an invisable reality). I don't know if Anglicans have the same belief or understanding as Catholics.
Congratulations on the birth of your youngest child x
If you're part of an Anglican church then there is a third way! You can have a thanksgiving/dedication service which is basically a bit like a Christening but without the actual dunking bit, and without the need to make promises for your DC that you may or may not agree with. Lots of churches use these for people who don't believe in infant baptism or for parents who aren't comfortable making the decision for their DCs.
I'm sure it's worth talking to your vicar about it, and don't be scared to say what you really do/don't believe to him/her.
Thanks for replies. I'm swinging towards the Christening now. I spoke to the vicar and laid my cards on the table as no point not being totally honest. He actually said we seemed to have more integrity about the whole thing than the majority of the people that come to him for Christenings and he thinks it would be 'sad' if we went for the Thanksgiving rather than Christening in that respect. There is a hippy dippy part of me that still likes the thought of a naming ceremony as it would feel more inclusive to family and friends i.e. not risking anyone feeling uncomfortable with too much God stuff if that wasn't their thing. What we did agree was that we wouldn't have any official 'God' Godparents as the people we want to be Godparents ( in terms of the non-God related parts of that role) are not Christians and I refuse to ask them to promise to guide my children in faith if they have no intention of doing so. The vicar said that's fine and he would still encourage them to stand at the front and support us all the same ( but they wouldn't make the promises)
I'm really glad you spoke to your vicar about it, and it sounds like you've got a solution.
It sounds like you have a really friendly church and a nice thoughtful vicar. You're just as much part of the church as anyone else. I know your friends "wouldn't dream of having their children christened" but this isn't about them, it's up to you. Is there anyone in the congregation who might be suitable for the godparent role and able to make the Christian declarations?
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