Shrewsbury Abbey

Christenings and Baptism

We offer Christenings at Shrewsbury Abbey and St. Peter's Monkmoor. As part of a Christening we baptise you or your child.

Baptism is special and we take baptism very seriously as a Christian response to God's calling.

If you are an adult seeking baptism for yourself or if you are a parent or carer seeking baptism for a child and you do not regularly attend either the Abbey or St. Peter's, please come along to one of our main Sunday services - 10am at the Abbey, 10.30am at St. Peter's - and speak to the Vicar or a Churchwarden.

If you are not sure in which parish you live please click on A Church Near You and you can enter your postcode, find out which parish you are in and obtain contact details. You may wish to seek baptism locally, but do please feel free to talk to us about Christenings and baptism here in the Abbey or St. Peter's.

The pages below give a brief guide.

Firstly though - take a look at this Church of England site - Just click on the pictures -           

You can also Light a Baptism Candle     and walk through a sample service    

 

A Brief History of Baptism

What Happens Before Baptism

What Happens At Baptism

What Happens After Baptism

Information about Baptism

A Prayer for Baptism

 

A Brief History of Baptism

Baptism is special. It is the way in which the Church admits new members and it has a tremendous meaning to Christians.

We see 'Christening' as being the one-off occasion when families come together to celebrate.

We see 'Baptism' as the most important part of this celebration and we see it as a life-long part of our spiritual relationship with God.

Baptism means ‘to dip’ and refers to the person being dipped into water. Christian Baptism is the correct term. Baptism draws on the Jewish roots of Christianity and so we must look into Judaism to find the early references to Baptism.

In the Old Testament God makes a two-way promise, or Covenant, with Abraham. God promises to bless His people and they promise not to forget Him. As a symbol of this agreement, every Jewish boy is circumcised when they are 8 days old. Today, over 3000 years later, this is still in practice.

Beih Alpha Israel

[Mosaic floor of the Synagogue of Beth Alpha, Israel, depicting Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac.]

At the beginning of the New Testament, John the Baptist challenged the people of Israel to turn away from their sins, to recommit to their covenant with the Lord and start again. Since they had all already been circumcised and could not re-enact that symbol, they needed another way to show their commitment. John introduced them to Baptism, a ritual washing and cleansing, that would demonstrate to the Lord their renewed devotion.

The Jordan River at Yardenit, Galilee, Northern Israel.

[The River Jordan where Jesus was baptised]

In the early Church there were many who wanted to follow Jesus and become Christians, some Jews, some not. St Paul, in one of his letters, made it clear that it was not circumcision of the flesh that counted, but rather ‘circumcision of the heart’. It is how we live, and not how we say we live, that really counts. The early Church had a somewhat heated debate about how people might be admitted to membership and finally decided that Baptism was the one and only requirement. It is a ritual open to men and women, young and old, and in a symbolic way it marks out a person just as if it were a mark on the flesh.

 

[The Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, Israel]

The early Church was subject to persecution -- just as some parts of the Christian Church are to this day. The process leading to Baptism was rigorous and often quite secretive. After the Emperor Constantine, Christianity became the major religion of the Roman Empire and the process to become a Christian became normalised.

 

[A cross-shaped Byzantine baptismal font at Avdat, Israel]

The Church developed a number of practices, not least the practice of the Baptism of infants, which are still debated to this day. Today many practicing Christians prefer to let their children reach an age when they can make the promises of Baptism for themselves.

Baptism should never, ever be about whether a Christening Gown fits. It should never be entered into lightly, and it should always come with the same two-way promise marking the Covenant between God and Abraham.

Baptism is about being part of the Covenant people of God -- it calls on the Baptised (and all who make promises both for themselves and on behalf the Baptised) to accept both the gift of God’s blessing and to commit themselves not to forget God, either in private prayer or public worship.

This is Christian Baptism -- treasure it and honour it.

 

What happens before Baptism

Preparation --

At The Abbey and St. Peter's we will ask you to make a commitment to a number of things as part of Christian Baptism:

  • Firstly we will ask parents and children to attend Church on a regular basis both before and after the Baptism – we’ll talk about this with you.

  • Secondly we’ll make a date to visit you at home – this will probably be the Vicar and / or another member of the congregation.

  • Thirdly we’ll ask parents and any local God Parents to join in with preparation in the weeks leading up to Baptism.

  • Fourthly – and particularly if you are a newcomer to regular attendance at Church – we’ll ask you to bring your child to a short Service of Thanksgiving on a Sunday morning prior to the Baptism.

  • If you feel you will be unable to make regular attendance we will suggest you consider a Service of Thanksgiving instead of Baptism.

     

    What happens at Baptism

    Christians believe Baptism gives us a fresh start and we become part of the family of God -- what we call a ‘Faith’ or ‘Covenant’ Community.

    The Baptism Service in the Church of England has developed from Biblical early traditions and the Service today includes twelve questions asked of Parents and Godparents and three symbols. The twelve questions are about faith and trust in God and our response in faith. The three symbols are:

    • The signing of the Cross
    • The dipping into Water
    • The giving of a Lighted Candle .

    The Cross reminds us of the Christian belief Jesus died in our place -- he gave his life for us.

    The Water is at the heart of Baptism and it is a symbol of a new beginning. Baptism is a symbolic expression of sharing in Jesus’ death on the Cross, of rising to new life with him, and of the cleansing power of forgiveness.

    The Light is a reminder there is ‘darkness’ all around us in the form of wrong doing or ‘sin’ -- but Jesus came to be the ‘Light of the World’.

    *Parents and God Parents will also be asked the twelve questions and asked to answer both on behalf of a child and for themselves.

    [A flock of sheep and goats in Anata, Israel]

     

    What happens after Baptism

    The truth is some people forget about all the promises they have made – at least until the next baby is born. Other people really try to keep the promises they have made.

    For Christians there are a number of basic beliefs which we affirm in the Baptism promises:

    • God is Real
    • God is Creator
    • God is Salvation
    • God is Spirit
    • God is Ever Present
    • God is Good
    • God is Love
    • God is ‘Personal’
    • Most of all, God wants to be in a Good Relationship with us.

    Some people take the time to teach their children, and take the opportunity to learn more about themselves, about questions of faith, about the teachings of Jesus, about prayer, about the role of the Church.

     

    Information about Baptism

    Parents and Godparents will be asked to bring up a child to be faithful in Private Prayer and Public Worship and to support the child in this. This will take a commitment which goes beyond the day of the Baptism. We will encourage that commitment.

    No one is permitted to be a Godparent unless they have themselves been Baptised. The normal number of Godparents is three.

    It is possible to apply for Christian Baptism at churches where families have historical links or where a couple have been married. You should seek the good will of your local minister. If you live outside the Parish or do not regularly worship with us please come to one of our main Sunday Services and talk with the Vicar afterwards.

    Parents seeking permission for Christian Baptism at places which will clearly not be their regular place of worship will be encouraged to make a commitment with us or at another more local church.

    Baptism should never be rushed unless there is a life threatening emergency. Timing of the Baptism should be a matter of prayer and great thought. The Vicar's own children were not Baptised under they were older -- at the ages of 9 years and 12 years respectively -- and they remember it with great affection and it was a very real part of their continuing walk with God.

    A prayer for Baptism

    Heavenly Father

    Help me to explore Christian Baptism with an open heart and an open mind.

    Give me courage if I am challenged to respond in faith to your call.

    Grant me the strength to walk with you where you will lead me and

    Help me to choose the path you would have me walk in my life.

    In Jesus' name - Amen.

     

     

    If you cannot find what you want from the drop-down list above, try our A-Z Site Map.