WHY SHOULD I BAPTISE MY CHILD?
In the Anglican Church we baptise infants and young children when their parents wish to bring them up in the faith of Jesus Christ. Young people who were baptised as children may reaffirm the baptismal promises made on their behalf when they are old enough to make a mature decision of faith in the ritual of confirmation, normally at about age 16.
The promises parents and godparents make in presenting a child for baptism are taken seriously, and parents are encouraged to make regular opportunity following baptism for their child to become a part of a worshipping community. In the Parish of Swan we welcome families with children and provide teaching for children of primary school age in Sunday School. Children who have been baptised may be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion when they are old enough (usually around age 6) to understand that in Holy Communion they are joining with other children and grown-ups as members of Jesus’ family.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Christian Baptism is a simple ritual or ceremony using water. It is, however, far more than a matter of pouring water over a person, but the means by which a person becomes a member of the Church and a follower of Jesus Christ. Baptism marks an important and unrepeatable moment in a person's life journey.
We believe that two things happen in baptism -
(1) There is something we do.
We bring ourselves, and present our children, for baptism in response to God's all embracing love toward us. In doing so we acknowledge our faith in God, for "anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). By coming for baptism we promise to grow in the faith of Jesus Christ, to do our best to live in a way that honours God, and to take up our part in the life and practice of God's Church. Where young children are brought for Baptism these promises are made on their behalf by the parents and godparents until the child is old enough to take them up personally at their confirmation.
(2) There is something God does.
What we see when someone is baptised in water is an outward and visible sign. But we believe that something unseen and invisible is also happening. In Baptism a person identifies with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and are joined to him in a new and special way. God acts toward the person who is baptised and says "this child is now mine too!"
WHERE SHOULD MY CHILD BE BAPTISED?
Baptism is never a "private" ceremony but the means by which a person becomes a member of a living community - the Christian church. In baptism, adults and children are welcomed into the Church, and it is important that this welcome is extended by a worshipping community that commits itself to the nurture and care of the newly baptised person. This is the reason that baptism is always conducted within a regular Sunday service.
In this parish as part of the preparation for baptism we ask that families attend church together for some time before and after the baptism in order to become a part of the worshipping community and reciprocate this welcome. The best church to baptise your child is definitely the church you plan to attend!
THE BAPTISM SERVICE
The parent/s who bring a child for baptism act as the child's sponsor during the service. This means that parent/s make certain promises on behalf of the child. The parent/s are supported by one or more god-parents. There must be at least one godparent but traditionally there are three - two of the same gender as the child and one of the other. All god-parents must be baptised members of the Church.
Together the parent/s and godparent/s make certain promises about the way they wish to bring up this child. You will be saying "No" to some things, and "Yes" to others.
THE SYMBOLS OF BAPTISM
The main symbol or sign in baptism is of course water. In the Bible candidates for baptism were fully immersed in water (Jesus himself was baptised in the Jordan River by John). In the early years of the Church baptisms were held once a year at Easter and candidates were immersed or dipped in water three times-in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Most commonly today candidates are baptised by pouring a small amount of water over the forehead three times.
During the service some other symbols may be used -
Following the baptism, the sign of the cross is made on the baptised person’s forehead using olive oil mixed with balsam (this is known as the ‘oil of chrism’). In the Old Testament anointing with oil marked out kings and prophets as people consecrated for a holy purpose. In the New Testament (James 5.14-15) anointing with oil with the laying on of hands in prayer is recommended for those in the community who are sick. In baptism both of these meanings are called to mind as the baptised person is set aside to live in the light of Jesus Christ within a community of care.
The baptised person is presented with a lighted candle to symbolise the light of Christ which shines for and through them. When infants are baptised we suggest that each year on the anniversary of their baptism the baptismal candle is lighted and the child reminded of how they came to be a part of Jesus’ family, the Church.
IS THERE A COST FOR BAPTISM?
There is no fixed fee for baptism, and the sacraments of the Church are offered free of charge. However the life of the church and the upkeep of its buildings depends on the generosity of visitors and members of the parish. We do therefore ask you to consider making a donation, and would suggest an amount of $200 to reflect the preparation time involved for the priest. Please do feel free to discuss this with the priest if it may cause difficulties.
The donation may be made to the parish by direct credit, to:
Anglican Parish of Swan
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Please contact us to make a time to come and discuss your child’s baptism. Please also download the ‘Baptism Application’ form and complete it before coming to the meeting. In the meantime, read through the material and make a note of any questions or concerns you have about the content of this booklet, or about the service itself, so that we can talk about these together.