From Mr Roger Godin
Sir, — We in Baptismal Integrity (BI) are really grateful for Rachel
Harden’s article (
Features, 5 November ). It raises a whole raft of issues, many of which
come up from correspondence on our website (
We find the growth of services of thanksgiving encouraging. We feel that
this is not so much due to the difficulty of finding godparents, as to an
increased awareness of the seriousness of the godparent’s promises; a wish on
the part of more parents (including many committed church families) to leave
the decision to their children; an ideal opportunity for the "uncommitted" to
express thanks to the Creator God in an environment where they are welcomed,
not overwhelmed; avoidance of an "apparently hard-line" baptism policy (as
outlined in the "Chatham" experience); even the possibility of having
With all these advantages, why is the growth not more rapid? Several answers
are possible, but primarily it seems to be fear of adverse reaction, perhaps
especially in rural areas.
To gain more objective evidence BI is commissioning a survey by the
respected Christian Research Organisation to investigate further. If any of
your readers are interested in taking part, please would they let me know.
By the way, while the clergy can exercise their discretion to allow
unconfirmed godparents, all godparents must have been baptised.
Chair, Baptismal Integrity
The Stables, Capland Lane
Baptismal Integrity was formerly the Movement for the Reform of Infant
Baptism (MORIB). Editor]
From the Revd John Hartley
Sir, — I fear that the demands on
godparents are even worse than Rachel Harden suggests in her splendid article
on infant baptisms: Canon B23 (2) requires godparents who are not only good
examples of Christian faith, but who also exercise real care for the child. How
many children have three or more committed Christians among their real carers?
One can’t help suspecting that most Anglican baptisms nowadays are unlawful.
Nevertheless, as she says, "Thanksgiving services are increasingly popular."
In fact, they are the only growth figure in Church Statistics 2002. Churches
like ours at Eccleshill have found that they provide a way of giving people a
real welcome, a first-class service, and the integrity that means they can look
the Vicar in the eye afterwards.
Thanksgivings would probably be more widely used if more churches offered
them. Maybe we need to learn how to present them properly, and promote them as
part of our welcome to parents.
Eccleshill Vicarage, 2 Fagley Lane
Bradford BD2 3NS
From Dr Martin Henig
Sir, — I enjoyed Rachel Harden’s perceptive and wide-ranging article on
godparents. I am certain that a great deal of leeway should be allowed in
choosing them, but in the end the obligation is a religious one, and truly
awesome in its implications.
In my own case, a far-sighted friend chose me to be godfather to her son. I
was, at the time, not even a Christian, and so was very grateful to a generous
and liberal priest for allowing it. But I was in no doubt whatsoever that
something special had happened when I undertook the responsibility to “help him
grow in the faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in which he was
Twelve years later, I was myself baptised — and then very happy to be
confirmed alongside my godson.
16 Alexandra Road