Baptisms, Christenings and Confirmations
At the baptism of a child, the parents thank God for His gift of life and decide to start the child on the journey of faith and ask for the Church's support.
Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey when you affirm the faith into which you were baptised as a child.
It is never too late to be baptised – many people are baptised as in their teens or as adults and find it a wonderful experience. Jesus himself was baptised in the River Jordan as an adult at the beginning of his public ministry.
Baptism - often called christening when the candidate is a young child – marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives. In christening a child, the parents and godparents are promising to raise the child in the Christian faith until it is old enough to make a decision for itself.
When a person is baptised, whether an infant, older child or adult, water is poured over the candidate's head or they are immersed in water during the service. In the case of a young person or adult, they may be fully immersed in water, in a special pool in the church or even in a lake, river or the sea. Whichever way it happens, the symbolism is very powerful. It signifies the person passing through the water of death – their old life has died – and the beginning of a new life to be lived following Christ. It is a demonstration that God has forgiven them of everything they have done wrong and now treats them as if they had never sinned. It marks the beginning of an amazing journey.
Godparents are usually other relatives or friends of the family. When an older person is baptised, they can choose to have a sponsor or sponsors to support them in their faith journey. Godparents and supporters should themselves have been baptised.
After baptism, the person is greeted by the members of the local Christian congregation and welcomed into the fellowship of the church of God. The congregation also agrees to support the child as it grows up in the Christian faith. So an individual is always baptised into a local Christian congregation and into the worldwide fellowship of all Christians.
Contact your local chaplaincy
Confirmation is a significant moment in the journey of faith of a Christian. At a service of confirmation a person will confirm the promises they made or were made on their behalf at their baptism. They make a public profession of faith. The bishop lays his hand on their head and asks God’s Holy Spirit to give the person strength and commitment to live God’s way for the rest of their life. It is the service at which people become full communicant members of the Church of England. The candidate’s friends, family and members of their congregation also promise to support and pray for them.
Services of confirmation follow a short course on what it means to be a Christian. Candidates are normally at least 12 years old but there is no upper age limit. Bishops are regularly confirming adults as people come to faith in Christ in later life.
Normally the service will include Holy Communion. For some candidates it will be the first time that they have taken consecrated bread and wine but others will have already done so – this depends on the church involved.