Baptism (Christening)

The Bro Famau Group of Churches – Information about Baptism (Christening)


What does the word ‘Baptism’ mean?


The word ‘Baptism’ comes from the Greek word  βαπτίζω – baptizo: which means “immersing”, or “performing ablutions


What does the word ‘Christening’ mean?

In church terms there is not too much sense in using the word ‘Christening’ rather than ‘Baptism’ other than that many people, especially if not regular churchgoers, might know it by that name!

It has, however, become a popular word to describe the same thing as Baptism.



What happens when someone is Baptised?


Baptism is a ‘sacrament’ – an outer sign of the inner working of God’s grace.


In Baptism……………………..


+ by water and spirit we are reborn as God’s  



+ we are made followers of Christ


+ we become members of the church


+ we become inheritors of the Kingdom of heaven



How is Baptism performed?


In Baptism water is poured over the head of the person being baptised (or they are fully immersed in water) three times in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Who can carry out a baptism?


Normally a priest or deacon in the church. In emergencies, however, a baptism can be performed by any Christian


Where is baptism carried out?


Most frequently in a font in a church, but some churches borrow a local swimming pool or use a river, or another location.




Is there an age limit for Baptism?


Absolutely not! Some babies are baptised in their first day of life. People over the age of 100 have been baptised.





What are Godparents for?


The idea of Godparents goes right back to the days when most adult converts to Christianity had no Christian parents and a ‘Godparent’ was appointed to speak up for the person to be baptised and, if necessary, to help them grow in faith.


Today the Godparents of children being baptised must promise in the baptism service to help bring the child up a Christian, and to care for the child and help them to keep God’s commandments by loving God and those around them – and also the Godparents promise to pray for the child and, by their own example, to help the child grow into an adult member of the church.






Why do some churches baptise babies rather than letting them decide when they grown up?


God does not withhold his love from children – quite the opposite in fact! Just as children need parental love to grow as a human being so they need God’s love to grow as a child of God.








As I was baptised as a child can I be baptised again?


Baptism is a once and for all sign of God’s love. Once a child has grown enough to want to take on the promises made on their behalf by Godparents they can be ‘confirmed’ in those promises by a Bishop.



What exactly do those being baptised promise?


All being baptised (and, if children, their Godparents) make promises to respond to the call of Jesus Christ by turning to him, repenting of sins, and renouncing evil. They also profess their faith in the one God who is the Trinity of God – God the Father, the Creator of all, God the Son, the saviour of the world, and  God the Holy Spirit, the giver of life


Many churches offer opportunities to renew the promises made at Baptism. Traditionally that is done at Easter but sometimes on other occasions too.



Does anything else happen in a Baptism service?


Tradition and practice varies – in most Anglican Churches including the Church in Wales………..


A lighted candle is presented as a sign of Jesus, the light of the world.


The persons head is anointed with ‘chrism’ (perfumed olive oil blessed by the Bishop at the Cathedral) as a sign of God’s saving grace.


In Russia babies may be presented with a cross and chain which has been dipped in the baptismal waters.


Some popular misconceptions about Baptism/Christening


To give him a name properly – no, children are named simply by their parents and that name is registered just after their birth


It is some sort of ‘magic’ inoculation against evil –  evil exists in the world but to walk through life with God is to choose the way not of evil but of good.


You can’t go to heaven unless you are baptised – no, God doesn’t judge anyone on whether they’ve been baptised or not.


You cannot get married in church unless you are baptised – whether you are baptised or not has nothing to do with it.


You cannot be buried in a churchyard if you are not baptised – no, this used to be the case in some churches but is not now.




I am an adult – can I be baptised?


Yes certainly – you will be asked to take seriously the baptismal promises including turning to Jesus Christ and being committed to be part of his church and following him for the rest of your life. Normally adults being baptised undergo a period of preparation with other adults conducted by their Vicar.



What happens next?


Being a Christian means……..


Following Jesus Christ and placing faith in him above all other things in life.


This means joining in worship of him, getting to know him better, and learning to follow him in becoming the whole people he made us to be.