A PRIEST in Manchester has denied refusing to baptise the
nine-month-old child of an unmarried couple.
The mother, Heather Lawrence, told her local newspaper, the
Manchester Evening News, that the Vicar of St John's,
Dukinfeld, in Manchester, the Revd Tim Hayes, had told her and her
partner that getting baptised was not a "ticket to heaven".
She was reported as saying: "In my eyes, if you are not baptised
you can't be bought into the church, and you're not one of God's
children." Ms Lawrence also said that baptism was a criteria for
three of the schools in her area.
Mr Hayes told the newspaper that this had always been the policy
at his church. "I believe marriage is God's way . . . [but] it's
not so much about what I think, it's about what Jesus thinks," he
The couple had said they were saving up to get married, and
could not yet afford the wedding. Mr Hayes said that if this was
the case, he would offer the wedding ceremony for free to help
In ecclesiastical law, Canon Law B22 says that no minister
should refuse to baptise a child or delay a baptism unnecessarily.
If it does happen, then the parents are directed to approach the
bishop of the diocese.
The Church of England website tells parents: "You do not have to
be married to ask for a christening for your child. You do not have
to have been a regular churchgoer - as parents, you do not even
have to have been christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at
their local church."
A spokesman for the diocese of Chester said that Mr Hayes had
not refused to baptise the couple's baby, Roman. "The Vicar, the
Revd Tim Hayes, would very much like to encourage the couple to
take the Christian initiation of baptism very seriously," he said.
"At no point has he refused to baptise the child. . .
"The Vicar would be happy to help the couple be married, and
then to baptise their child at no financial cost to them, so that
the best outcome can be achieved. We hope the family will receive
this offer warmly."