Baptism, often called Christening, is the sacrament by which we become part of God's church. Every person is a beloved child of God even before their birth, but our identity as Christian people is made visible to the world by baptism.
Who can be baptized?
Anyone, of any age, who has not already been baptized, can present themselves for baptism. It is a public commitment to live in the light of Christ and to journey on his way, knowing that he will bring us back whenever we get lost.
Most candidates for baptism are babies, brought by their parents, but we also regularly welcome adults who want to take this next step in their journey of faith. Adults are encouraged to come for Confirmation by their Bishop shortly after their baptism.
The Church of England divides the country into geographical parishes to ensure that everyone has a church responsible for them. The primary responsibility for baptisms is with the parish church that covers where you live (click here to find more details). But all sorts of other connections bring people to St Nick's – perhaps you were married here, or plan to get married here, or were Christened here yourself? Perhaps you work in the city and come here to pray? Perhaps you served on HMS Liverpool and want your child baptized in the ship's bell? Please get in touch and ask us!
When do baptisms take place at Liverpool Parish Church?
Baptisms are usually conducted on the second Sunday of the month at 12 noon. Adults, and children of regular worshippers, are often baptized during the main Sunday service: certain Sundays of the year are particularly suitable.
How do I arrange a baptism at Liverpool Parish Church?
Please ring the Parish Office, send us an email (contact details here), come and speak to one of the clergy after a service, or check it's running and drop into Little Nicks one Wednesday morning. We'll talk through all the arrangements.
How much does it cost?
Baptism is a sign of God's free gift of grace, and there's no fee. You may need to pay the organist and verger for their services if you would like some music and hymns, for example. And we always welcome donations to sustain the life of Liverpool Parish Church and to help keep our buildings open and in good repair for generations to come.
What happens in the baptism service?
The central symbol of the baptism service is washing with water. The candidate is refreshed and renewed through the holy water to begin a new life in Jesus Christ. Before this, the parents and Godparents, or the adult candidate, make promises, and the congregation vows to support them. They are marked with the sign of the cross, then the water is blessed before the baptism itself. They may also be anointed, and at the end they receive a lighted candle as a symbol of Christ's light in their lives. All this is surrounded by prayers, readings, and words of reflection. The service lasts about half an hour.
There's more information, including a sample service, on the Church of England website here, and the priest taking the service will go through it with you in the week or two beforehand.
Whom should I choose as Godparents?
Babies and children are supported by Godparents, who make some promises on their behalf. Traditionally there are three Godparents, two of the same gender as the child, and one of the opposite gender. Godparents must themselves have been baptized, and at least one of them should also have been Confirmed. We do not make distinctions between Christian denominations in baptism, so it doesn't matter what sort of church they were baptized and Confirmed in.
Some parents find it hard to choose Godparents, especially if they worry that someone may feel left out. Your family members, we hope, already feel included in your child's life, so you might like to invite someone who is not already a member of your family to be a part of your child's upbringing by asking them to be a Godparent.
The Godparents' responsibilities are to pray for their Godchild and to help guide them in the way of faith and bring them deeper into the life of the church. Godparents do not have any legal responsibility for their Godchildren.
What if I want my child to be able to choose her own faith when she is older?
Some parents are concerned that having a child baptized will leave them unable to choose their own path in future. Perhaps the parents are of different faiths or different Christian denominations themselves, and want to keep doors open for the child? Naturally, it's important to talk through any differences and tensions, and we'd be happy to be a part of that conversation.
Baptism is not specific to each Christian denomination, so your child won't be baptized an Anglican – we are simply baptized Christians. We hope that everyone who is baptized will continue to explore their faith and take a full part in the life of the church, but we understand that people will find their own way.
Another option is a service of Thanksgiving for the gift of a child, which allows you to express your thankfulness to God, but does not include the sacrament of baptism. Please talk to us if you think this might be right for your family.
Anyone who is already baptized who is interested in being prepared for Confirmation or just exploring their faith more deeply is welcome to contact the clergy via the Church Office (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Heavenly Father, by the power of your Holy Spirit you give to your faithful people new life in the water of baptism. Guide and strengthen us by the same Spirit, that we who are born again may serve you in faith and love, and grow into the full stature of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit now and for ever. Amen.