Baptism marks somebody's official entry into the Christian Church. That is why it is sometimes called a christening, the time when we are publicly recognised as a Christian. In some Churches a person is baptised only when they are ready to commit themselves publicly to the Christian life. Within the Church of England we baptise children who are not old enough to make that commitment, provided the parents and godparents are prepared to make the commitment themselves and promise to bring the child up within the family of the Church. The parents and godparents are asked if they are willing to undertake that responsibility as well as affirming their own faith. There is more about the Church of England's approach to baptism, together with the questions that are asked, here.
Baptism involves more than the person being baptised, their family and friends. It involves the whole Church which welcomes this new member. That is why baptism should normally be when Church members can come together to offer that welcome to the new member. At St Martin's this is at our main service, 10 am on Sundays, though which Sunday is a matter of negotiation.
Baptism is called a rite of passage, something that happens just once in our lives. It is never repeated as we move on from there, building on the foundation that has been laid. Even if nobody can tell simply by looking at us we have been changed by the event, and need now to embody that experience in our lives. Being a Christian is something we grow into, baptism being the public statement that we have started on that journey. If somebody is baptised as an adult, and there is no maximum age for being baptised, then this will be after a period of preparation to help them understand what they are promising, They will also normally be presented to the bishop to be confirmed, the other part of Christian initiation. If somebody has been baptised as a child they will be confirmed, again after a period of preparation, once they are old enough to make their own Christian commitment.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of being baptised, or of your child being baptised, then please contact us.