If your family has recently grown through the birth or adoption of a child, congratulations! You have been greatly blessed by God. “Children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).
As you reflect on God’s kindness through the gift of your child, you may feel the desire to show your thankfulness to God and to forge a connection between His church and your child. St Jude’s is an excellent place to do this.
Baptism is a simple ceremony of washing in water practised by Christians.
It is a powerful sign, symbolising both something that we do and something that God does. On the human side, it symbolises the Christian decision to turn to God and away from sin. On the God side, it symbolises the washing away of sin and gift of the Holy Spirit that only God can provide.
No power is conveyed by the water itself or by the minister conducting the baptism. But the spiritual reality it represents is nothing less than God’s gift of new life. As such it is an important and powerful sign which is not to be used lightly.
Baptism of Infants
The first baptisms recorded in the Bible were of adults making a conscious decision to turn to God. The practice of baptising adults coming to Christ for the first time has continued throughout the Christian era and is provided for by the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
An infant, however, cannot decide for him- or herself to turn to God. Because of this, when an infant is baptised, there are sponsors (the parents and godparents) who speak on the child’s behalf. The sponsors must themselves be people who have turned to God for the washing away of their sins through Jesus Christ. The sponsors undertake to provide spiritual encouragement and the help of a good example so that the child may be brought up to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and become a faithful member of the church.
When the child is old enough, it is up to him or her to decide whether to continue in the Christian life symbolically begun at baptism. The church’s practice of Confirmation (which often occurs in mid-teenage years) provides an opportunity to make a public commitment to continue in one’s baptismal promises.
What is promised or undertaken in Baptism?
Three promises are made by all candidates for baptism, and these are also the undertakings made by godparents when the candidate is a child:
- a turning from all that is false and unjust – a rejection of all that is opposed to the will of God;
- a belief in God – trust in the Father as the one who made us, in Jesus as the one who saves us, and in the Holy Spirit who is with us;
- a firm intention to follow God’s ways in our lives and to teach this to our children.
The main role of a godparent is to pray for the godchild and to provide both parents and godchild with encouragement in the Christian life.
Aunts, uncles and close family friends are often chosen to be godparents. However, even more important than a close family relationship is that a godparent be someone who knows God’s love for them in Jesus Christ and who has themselves turned to God.
A boy usually has two godfathers and one godmother and a girl usually has two godmothers and a godfather. Parents are able to be godparents.
Baptism at St Jude’s
Baptism services are usually held on the second Sunday of each month at 11.00 am. There may be anywhere from one to four baptism families involved. Other times are possible by arrangement with the Rector. Please note that the baptism cannot occur until at least three months after your application.
Because the baptism service involves parents and godparents making significant promises concerning their own Christian faith and intention to raise the child in the Christian faith, good preparation is essential. The process at St Jude’s is as follows:
- Introductory meeting with our Family Pastoral Worker Amanda Wharton at least three months before the baptism.
- Attendance at Family Services (1st Sunday of each month)
- Two meetings with our Rector Andrew Schmidt. The first of these will be on a Tuesday or Thursday night, either at St Jude’s or in your home. Andrew is happy to come to you so that both parents can be involved. On this first meeting we will read a Bible passage together and talk about the Christian faith.
- The second meeting with Andrew will be at 12.00 pm on the Wednesday before the baptism. At this meeting we will discuss the meaning of the baptism service and answer any questions you may have.
Expectations after Baptism
Our fervent prayer and expectation is that the baptism of your child will be the beginning of a significant relationship with the St Jude’s community through which your family will grow closer to God and his Son Jesus Christ.
We would expect to see you at Family Services (1st Sunday of each month) or at any of our regular Sunday gatherings (8.00 am, 9.30 am, 6.30 pm). Children are welcome at all of these. A Children’s Program (for kids aged 3-12 years) operates at the 9.30 am service during school terms.
A Playgroup runs every Tuesday 9.30-11.30 in the Parish Room for Mums, Dads, Grandparents or Carers with children aged 0-3 years.
If your child eventually attends Randwick Public School, the Anglican or Protestant SRE class (School Scripture) is another way to express your connection with St Jude’s.
Our Special Family Services at Christmas and Easter are a great opportunity to celebrate God’s love for us in a fun and relaxed setting.
As well as involvement with St Jude’s, parents have a crucial role in following through on baptismal promises in the home by:
- Praying for your child
- Reading the Bible with them (children’s Bibles are a good place to start)
- Living as an example of the Christian faith
- Is there a fee for baptism? No. It will be much more rewarding to us to see you become a part of the St Jude’s community.
- What if only one parent is a believer? We are absolutely happy to conduct the baptism on the basis of one parent’s Christian faith.
- What if we don’t live in the area? It will normally be much better for you to seek baptism at your local church because that is where you can realistically have an ongoing relationship with the Christian community. In special circumstances we may agree for the baptism to take place at St Jude’s on the basis of preparation done at your local church. However, please understand that we cannot always accommodate this.
- What if the baptismal promises are too much for us? If you do not feel comfortable making the personal confession of faith and the promises involved in the baptism service, we would be happy to conduct a service of Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child. This is a lovely service of thanks and prayer to God for His blessing on the child. It does not involve water baptism or the need for parents and godparents to make a confession of Christian faith. However, it still serves as a welcome to the St Jude’s community, a chance for parents and godparents to make a public commitment to raising the child in God’s world, and a moment for the beautiful baby to have some photos in our beautiful building!