23 July 2013
The Church of England carries out more than 10,000 christenings
per month each year for babies and infants. This figure is made up
of approximately 7,000 christenings per month for babies under one
year old, and 3000 christenings per month for children aged 1 - 12
years. Everyone is welcome to have a christening in their parish
Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about
getting your baby or child christened.
1. What is the difference between a baptism and a
There is no difference between a christening service and
a baptism service. Some churches will use the word 'baptism'
and some the word 'christening'. Babies are 'baptised' during
a 'christening' service just as couples are 'married' during a
Christening is a traditional English word which means to become
a member of the Christian church. Baptism means to be immersed in
water. During a christening service a baby or child will be
baptised with water and welcomed into the community of the local
2. What is baptism?
"Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which
continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to
God's love." It is also a celebration, a time to come
together with family and friends; remembering that your child is
loved by God, is part of a wider community and has a place with
3. What happens in the service?
Christenings are services replete with symbols for new
life. At your baby's christening water will be blessed and used to
pour on the baby's head. The baby will be signed with the cross, a
special oil may be used for this, and a candle may be given.
Godparents and parents will make promises on behalf of the baby,
and prayers will be offered for the baby and the family. There may
also be readings and hymns, which you may be able to choose.
4. Does a christening give my baby a
No. Your baby's name is given when you register the
birth. During the baptism, the baby's name will be used often, and
when the water is poured over the child's head, the vicar will
always use the name.
5. Who is allowed to have a christening
The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and
families - whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be
married to ask for a christening for your child. You do not
have to be an active churchgoer - as parents, you do not even have
to have been christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their
6. How much does a christening service
The good news is that a christening service is
free. There may be costs for a family party, for gifts, for
christening robes - but the church is free.
7. Where can I hold the
You can have your baby christened at your local parish
church. If you want to have the christening at a different church,
for example, where you grew up or where you were married, you will
need to talk to the vicar at that church.
8. When can I have a christening?
You can have your baby or child christened at any age.
There is no upper age limit, but after about the age of seven your
child should be able to make the promises for
The service is usually held as part of a main Sunday service in
the local church, but there are also opportunities to have a
service at a different time, again usually on a Sunday. Talk to the
vicar, and ask their advice.
9. What about godparents?
The involvement of godparents can be one of the most
joyful parts of the christening.
Godparents are not necessarily the people who will care for your
child should anything happen to you. Rather they should be people
who will be there for your child and help them think about the
bigger questions in life - questions of love, hope and faith.
Every child should have no fewer than three godparents, at least
two of the same sex as the child. Parents may be godparents for
their own children, providing they have at least one other
Godparents must be baptised themselves and old enough to make
some serious promises on behalf of the child.
10. How do I arrange a
Simply contact the vicar of the church where you want to
hold the christening and ask for advice.
You can find your local Church of England parish using our
website "a church near