Everyone is welcome to have a their baby or child baptized at a
Christening in their parish church and with around 10,000 babies
and infants being Christened each month in the Church of England,
it remains a popular decision for parents.
Here are some 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 Baptized during a
christening service just as couples are 'married' during a
2. Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes, so long as they have not been Baptized already. The
Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for
Christenings - 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 have been a regular churchgoer - as parents, you do not
even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome
at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is
something you are considering for your baby.
3. What about godparents?
Godparents are some of the most important people at the
Godparents are not the people who will care for your child
should anything happen to you. Arrangements for this would normally
be made by a Will. 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 at least three godparents, two of the
same sex and at least one of the opposite sex. Parents may be
godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one
Godparents must be baptized themselves and old enough to make
some serious promises on behalf of the child.
4. How much does a Christening service
The good news is that a Christening service is free.
There may be costs for your family party afterwards, for gifts, or
for christening robes, but the church service is free.
[Occasionally parents need a certified copy of the entry in the
register. In 2014 this will cost £12]
5. Where can we hold the
You can have your baby Christened at your local parish
church and it is usually held as part of the main Sunday service.
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.
6. Can we arrange a Christening at a separate time to
the Sunday service?
There may be opportunities to have a service at a
different time, again usually on a Sunday, but talk to the vicar
and ask their advice about what is possible at your church.
7. How do I arrange a
Simply contact the vicar of the church where you want to
have the Christening and ask for advice.
You can find your local Church of England parish using our
8. How old should my child be?
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 may be able to make the promises for themselves. Talk to your
vicar about baptizing an older child and how this might differ from
a baby's Christening service.
9. What happens in the service?
At your baby's Christening, water will be blessed and
poured on the baby's head - this is the baptism of your baby (the
word 'baptism' means 'to be immersed in water'). The baby will be
signed with the cross and a special oil may be used for this. A
candle or other gift from the church 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 - ask your vicar if you
have any special requests.
10. What exactly is Baptism?
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which
continues for the rest of our lives. This first step is a 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 God's