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Infant baptisms from the parish

10 August 2012


Your answers

Baptisms of non-churchgoers' children never seem to happen in our parish now. Is this a common experience? (I do not know if our vicar discourages them.)

We, too, get only a handful of non-churchgoing infant-baptism requests. Those who do seek baptism almost always have some childhood churchgoing experience, or they wish to continue a tradition in their family. As most of the parents I now meet were born in the 1980s or later, I put down the decline in baptism requests to the significant "de-churching" of that generation.

Conversely, we are receiving many more baptism requests from non-churchgoing adults who feel that they have missed something, even if they cannot articulate what it is.
(The Revd) Toby Hole (Vicar of St Chad's)
Woodseats, Sheffield

We still have significant numbers of parents whom we would rarely see on a Sunday but who request baptism for their children. We find often here that the parents are not yet married (although that can follow), and that the baptism of their firstborn (in particular) provides an opportunity for the community to acknowledge a new family unit.

Numbers attending can be substantial. Two years ago, we were approached by a family from outside the parish (and diocese) requesting baptism in Howden Minster. When I asked why they had come, they replied that their vicar had sent them. I followed this up before agreeing, only to find that their home parish church was too small to accommodate all the guests that they intended to invite. We welcomed them on a particularly busy Sunday, when more than 300 people attended baptisms (many times the regular Sunday congregation).

I believe in the objective reality of the sacrament of baptism as a means of grace, irrespective of the beliefs of parents (professed or otherwise). Baptism preparation provides an opportunity to share something of the gospel. The service itself can provide an oppor­tunity to reach out and welcome a much larger group of people.
(The Revd) James Little
(Team Rector and Rural Dean)
Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire


Your questions

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that newly ordained priests can read (if not sing) church services clearly, correctly, and audibly, and carry out the manual actions at holy communion? 
A. M.

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