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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.

Brices Sat 28-Sep-13 23:16:53

Blimey, you choose to continue with these people?!

Oldandcobwebby Sat 28-Sep-13 23:19:28

Beats me why you want to be involved with this bunch. Run for the hills. Run as fast as you can. And bin that children's Bible.

Idespair Sat 28-Sep-13 23:20:11

Don't get your dc christened there. That vicar calls himself/herself a Christian but clearly is far from a real one. Why don't you have your dc Christened at your church instead of MIL's.

CoteDAzur Sat 28-Sep-13 23:20:14

"God and Jesus love him more than Mummy and Daddy"

And you didn't get the rage and attack this man? shock

If God & Jesus loves your DS so much, then why the hell is this man trying so hard to prevent his baptism?

Howstricks Sat 28-Sep-13 23:21:42

No advice..I visited our church one Christmas to try and establish a link with the day and our vicar was as frosty as a snowman! I never went back. I do know some lovely vicars though and that gives me a bit of hope!

ProphetOfDoom Sat 28-Sep-13 23:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FantasticDay Sat 28-Sep-13 23:24:55

Sorry to hear you had this experience. I'm not C of E myself - I'm a Unitarian - but the Anglicans I know from multifaith forums are far more open. I also think your priest is not going to encourage more people ti worship with this approach. Could you try your local vicar?

Custardo Sat 28-Sep-13 23:28:31

vicar sounds like a cock of the highest order. get a new one and think WWJD? would he go around interrogating people before baptising them? i think not.

Gerbilectomy Sat 28-Sep-13 23:29:20

You do realise that you are free to laugh at this bollocks and walk away, don't you? Nothing bad will happen, now or in the hereafter hmm

EBearhug Sat 28-Sep-13 23:30:27

Blimey. Most vicars I know see christenings as a way to encourage parents to get more involved with church and hopefully increase the number of regular churchgoers. They're certainly not usually unwelcoming, though some will ask you to attend church before they agree to the christening.

I remember my sister saying she went to the christening of one of her schoolfriend's children, and it seemed to her that she was the only one who knew her way round a service sheet and what the responses were, and the hymn tunes. (Neither of us is a regular church goer, but we were as children, and other family members are very strong Christians.)

IrisWildthyme Sat 28-Sep-13 23:33:36

Golly! I think you need to find a different vicar! I'm a fairly liberal christian and I know plenty of vicars who would take a much friendlier attitude than that. The church of england, as the established church, is there for everyone who lives in this country and wants to access its ministry, and the vicar was being very unkind and unchristian to make you feel so unwelcome. Even if you aren't massively religious, you are keeping a thread linking you to the church alive, and who is he to criticise or judge - and who is to say what grace might come to you or to your children if you are welcomed to engage with the church at the level you feel comfortable with. He sounds like a bit of an arse frankly.

Unless there is some major reason why you don't feel able to do this, go to the church whose parish you actually live in. I think that, as with weddings, you have a right to get your child baptised at your own parish church, whereas asking for the service to be done at any other church is something that the vicar can choose to grant or deny.

edam Sat 28-Sep-13 23:39:13

He clearly missed the verse in the Gospels where Jesus said 'suffer* the little children to come unto me' then.

The CofE is the established church, part of the make up of the country, and has a duty to care for all souls if they wish - doesn't matter if you've never darkened the door of the church before, you are entitled to attend services, be baptised, married or buried. Although slightly complicated in your situation where it isn't your own parish church, but MIL's. Still, you'd think the vicar would want to welcome children into the church in the hopes that their family might stick around.

*suffer meaning 'allow' as in, adults shouldn't shoo children away

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 28-Sep-13 23:40:53

Go back and remind the vicar that churches were once community buildings. The markets were held in there, people held meetings and social functions. It was only the Victorians that turned them into the serious bible-bashing stereotype with the regimental pews. A christening may be a religious ceremony but the social coming together of the community and the family is an important event and you would like to hold it in the traditional place.

That is why he there, after all. If it wasn't for the old hatch, match & dispatch he probably wouldn't have much to do.

FavoriteThings Sat 28-Sep-13 23:46:13

You are absolutely not being frauds and hypocrites. And I speak as a Christian. I would advise you to go a different vicar. C of E or otherwise. It is imperative that you feel welcome.

steppemum Sat 28-Sep-13 23:47:58

Well, I think you managed to find a very unfriendly vicar.

But in the christening service, you make some pretty heavy promises. Promises to bring them up teaching them about the faith and the ways of God, promising to pray for them etc. It is surely the place of the vicar to find out if you can/want to abide by those promises. The church is after all not there as a social club, it is a church with a faith, so the faith part of it is pretty important.

BUT the vicar handled it badly and has scared you off instead of welcoming you in, which is very sad. I know that there are many vicars now, who don't want to just baptize any baby that walks in the door. The point is that they want the parents to think about what that baptism actually means. But the vicars I know, do this gently and if they feel that a family is really not interested in faith or church, they might suggest a blessing service rather than a baptism service, or they might invite the family along to something, eg the alpha course. So that the family has a service to mark the occasion and family event and also invite God to bless the baby, but they don't have to make promises that they don't mean and don't intend to fulfill.

Do try another church, I am hoping you just caught him on a bad, day, very sad if he is that grumpy with everyone.

OhBuggerandArse Sat 28-Sep-13 23:53:17

That's not just an unfriendly vicar, that's poisonous hard line evangelicalism that has no place in the Church of England and will destroy any benefit the church has ever had for community and culture. If you can face it you should write to the Bishop and complain. So not what the church is supposed to be about.

Chestnut99 Sat 28-Sep-13 23:54:09

Thank you for the support thanks

MIL's village church has a lot of DH's family in the graveyard, lots of his family in the village and my family has links too, predating DS's christening 3 years ago, so again our choice is all about the family links and strength of continuity across the years etc. It's just so disappointing that the current vicar is so suspicious. I didn't say any of those things to him as I got the sense that for him it's just about Jesus, end of. I totally agree at the CofE has a wider role as the "default" religion, but this vicar is not, I suspect, with me on that.

We don't attend our local church (no family service and DH trains every Sunday morning so I haven't been able to face it solo), the more children-friendly church nearby is too popular to do baptisms for people outside their parish and we'll be moving soon, so our links with the local church are minimal.

I just hope this man doesn't make the actual christening service as unpleasant.

ancientbuchanan Sat 28-Sep-13 23:55:04

Friends had the same experience from the RC priest who had christened their first and was repellent to them about their second. They had moved out if the parish but were not regular attenders.

. IMV it was and is outrageous in both cases. Babies and creation are to be celebrated.

If your MIL us insistent that dc is done there, so be it. But find a nice church for the occasions when you do want to go that is welcoming and lovely. There are lots, in all sorts of flavours to suit every taste.

mind you, the vicar who married us was so awful we nearly decided not to get married. Hellfire loomed at every corner. F him.

edam Sat 28-Sep-13 23:58:05

Chestnut, he doesn't know his gospels very well if he thinks Jesus would have wanted him to turn away children.

ancientbuchanan Sun 29-Sep-13 00:02:33

Just plan a great day without him. And am still seething about what he said to your dc.

But perhaps you could, or have already? turn it round? ' Jesus loves everyone. But he specially loves children. And when some grown ups wanted to send the children away, he wouldn't let them. That's all the man meant. He also loved animals. Lots of his stories are about animals. Sheep, pigs, a sparrow. "
( mind you, never sure about hoe happy the pigs were...)

And I would buy a great biblical colouring book for dc for the christening itself. in the service. That'll show him.

ancientbuchanan Sun 29-Sep-13 00:02:34

Just plan a great day without him. And am still seething about what he said to your dc.

But perhaps you could, or have already? turn it round? ' Jesus loves everyone. But he specially loves children. And when some grown ups wanted to send the children away, he wouldn't let them. That's all the man meant. He also loved animals. Lots of his stories are about animals. Sheep, pigs, a sparrow. "
( mind you, never sure about hoe happy the pigs were...)

And I would buy a great biblical colouring book for dc for the christening itself. in the service. That'll show him.

racingheart Sun 29-Sep-13 00:04:52

That vicar's not really doing his job then. His job is to be a shepherd and welcome stray sheep back into the flock. It is common knowledge that an awful lot of people return to faith once their children are born - the miracle of life and the desire to foster a strong, safe, moral structure for them in their lives. (Not saying this can't be achieved without religion, just that this is a draw.)

Maybe the vicar was having an off day and fed up of people using the church for tradition not faith. but still, if he had been warm and welcoming you'd find it easier to come back. The church I stumbled on when DC were small was so genuinely loving and practised what it preached with such low key kindness, it made faith very easy to come by.

OhDearNigel Sun 29-Sep-13 00:06:26

please, please, please don't just give up because you've met one (very unpleasant sounding) vicar. They really aren't all like that. The vicar at our old church was the reason we left, when we started going to our new church, having not been to a service for 2 years, we could not believe how different it was

We are actively practicing Christians and having DD baptised was very important to us. However, had our only choice been our old church I would not have done it, I felt that strongly about the vicar. Wild horses could not have made me go back in there.

In your situation I would rather not have her baptised tbh

PedantMarina Sun 29-Sep-13 00:10:55

Pagan ex-catholic desparately biting lip here...

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