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
History of Baptism
Happens Before Baptism
Happens At Baptism
Happens After Baptism
A Prayer for
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
see 'Christening' as being the one-off occasion when families come
together to celebrate.
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
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.
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
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
What happens before Baptism
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
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’
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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