From the Revd Paul Webb
Sir, - I have read with interest the
various letters, as well as your editorial, on baptism (
Letters, Leader, 31 August) and whether it
should be included in the "main Sunday service"", whatever that
means. Where this happens to be a service of the word, we can truly
sing, as you suggest, "Bring 'em all in."
This generous inclusivity does not
apply, however, when the service is eucharistic. As fewer and fewer
present themselves for confirmation, many of our baptismal parties
are excluded from the "bread-and-wine business" as you describe it
- hardly an unconditional welcome, no matter how much "honey" we
may try to add in other ways.
Should we not be embarrassed by this?
I pray for the day when our sacraments may bring people in rather
than shut people out; so that the generosity of our (the Lord's)
hospitality may lead to belief rather than belief - or confirmation
- being a prerequisite for participation.
101 Palace Road, East Molesey
Surrey KT8 9DU
From the Revd Martin
Sir, - Requests for "christening" are
one of the most common opportunities the Church has for introducing
Jesus. I am heartened by the correspondence (
Letters, 31 August) that suggests that the practice is
continuing of celebrating baptism at the time when the congregation
As a parish priest in three parishes,
I have made this a central part of baptism policy, on the basis of
the principle that the Church exists primarily for its non-members.
There have been many expressions of appreciation from guests on
those occasions - and some radical conversions.
It doesn't always have to be a
communion service, as your Leader implies - and "dress code" is a
bit out of date - and it is always sensible to offer Thanksgiving
for the Gift of a Child as an alternative, for those who get as far
as seriously thinking about the commitment that the baptism service
implies. In my last parish, we had as many thanksgivings as we had
Let's encourage enquirers to do what
baptism represents - to help them to move their longings forward to
experience welcome into the family of the Church.
12 Abbott Road
Folkestone CT20 1NG