Here are some answers to commonly asked questions. Feel free to contact us if there are any further questions that you would like to ask or speak with the one of our Clergy when you meet.
Q. What is the difference between Baptism and Christening?
A. Essentially there is no difference. Baptism is the process of either being immersed in water (for adults) or sprinkled with water (for children). Christening was originally a word used to describe the moment within the Baptism service when the child was given their Christian name. Nowadays, people often use thet two words interchangeably. If you want a ‘Christening’ and the Vicar says ‘Baptism’, don’t worry – you’re talking about the same thing!
Q. Can we have a ‘private’ service of Baptism?
A. There is a great deal to be said for having the Baptism during the church’s main service on Sunday mornings. In Baptism, you are making a public declaration that you or your child have become part of the church family. Therefore it is important that the church congregation is there to support you and welcome your child. If you decide to have a ‘private’ service, then we ask you to come back to the next All-Age so that we can welcome you then and present the Baptism certificate.
Q. What is the right age for Baptism?
A. Baptism can happen at any age. What matters is that those concerned believe it is right to ask for baptism. Adults and children who are older than four will be expected to answer for themselves and so must be willing to be baptised and able to express their own Christian faith.
Q. How much does it cost to have a service?
A. Both baptism and thanksgiving services are free because God’s love to us is free!
However, we do ask for a small donation to help cover some of our ancillary costs. There is a fee (set by the Church of England nationally) for £18 for your Baptism Certificate and we ask £22 to help offset some of the costs of printing and other gifts; therefore a total of £40. During winter months, we will ask for a further donation to help heat the church if you have a ‘private’ service. That heating cost varies depending on the church where the service is being held.
Q. Where and when can the service take place?
There are some options as to where you can have the service. Within our Team Ministry, there are seven churches that meet in different locations. There is St Margaret’s in Addington, All Saints in Birling, Ss Peter & Paul in Leybourne, St Michael’s in Offham, St Martin’s in Ryarsh, St Peter & St Paul’s in Trottiscliffe and St Mary’s in West Malling. You can have your service in any one of those seven churches.
Secondly, there are two main options as to when you have the service. You can either have it as part of the main Sunday service in that church. You can find out more about our regular Sunday services and service times here. Alternatively, some families opt for a short service around lunchtime on a Sunday afternoon in what is known as a ‘private’ service.
If you would like to have a baptism in a ‘private’ service, we do ask that you join us for our next monthly All-Age Service Sunday morning service when the church congregation are present. At that time we can present you with your certificate and welcome you formally as part of the church. There is no such requirement to attend on a Sunday after ‘private’ Thanksgivings.
Q. I was baptised as a baby. Can I be baptised again?
A. You can only be baptised once, but there are ways of renewing your Christian commitment publicly as an adult and we would be happy to discuss those options with you. Please do get in touch to ask.
Q. I don’t live in the parish. Can I (or my child) be baptised here?
A. Potentially yes. If you regularly attend church here, then of course it makes sense to have the service of Baptism or Thanksgiving here. If you don’t regularly attend church here, we would encourage you to consider having the service at your local church since the Church of England website notes that part of Baptism is about ‘asking for the Church’s support’ and also ‘becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family’. Both of which are pretty much impossible to do if you are not in church and don’t live locally. If you live outside the parish and did want to pursue Baptism, it would only be feasible after six months of regular attendance. At that point, we could look again with integrity at your request for Baptism.
Q. I’m not a regular churchgoer yet. Can I still have my child baptised?
A. Yes. The Church believes that God’s love is available to all, regardless of their background and every church in the Church of England has a duty to baptise all those who desire it. Having said that, if you don’t go to church regularly and don’t feel you can, in all integrity and honesty, make the promises that a Baptism demands then you might either want to look at the Thanksgiving service as a better option for you and your child or ask the Vicar to help you ‘prepare’ for Baptism in a more detailed way to help you get ready for the service.
Q. My question wasn’t answered on this page. How can I ask my question?
If you have anything else you want to ask, please contact us. We will be glad to help you and answer your question as best as we are able.