Recently, as a group of parishes, I signed us up to be part of a Baptism pilot project run by the Church of England. We are one of a number of parishes across Coventry and Leicester Diocese. Some parishes in other diocese are doing similar pilots for Wedding and Funeral resources.
I had to attend a briefing back in July (it involved an overnight stay at the Hinckley Island Hotel – sometimes we do have to suffer for the Kingdom!). At the briefing we were given some feedback on a major survey that had been conducted across the country with families who had brought children to be baptised last year.
The first thing for us to take on board was that approximately 125,000 are baptised every year and that on average 50 people attended the service. That means over six million people come to church for a baptism service during the course of a year. Even if you allow for some attending more than one that is a staggering number of people through the church doors.
In our group of parishes we are at around thirty baptisms for the year to date – so it is a significant part of the ministry in our churches and one in which we need to be more helpful and effective.
The purpose of the project is to develop some new resources for use in our contact with baptism families. For instance, a new website was launched in July. It is full of information for parents and godparents, and anyone else who is interested in finding out what Baptism is about. If you have access to a computer have a look at it and let me know any feedback you have and any ideas you have to improve it. You will find it at www.churchofenglandchristenings.org.
The material that has been produced is based around the idea that Baptism is the beginning of a journey of faith both for the child and their family, not to mention their godparents. So all the printed material has the theme of “An Amazing Journey”.
We have placed leaflets in church and other venues which are for those who are thinking about getting their child baptised entitled “Start an amazing journey”. Look out for them in all our churches.
Then there are other leaflets for the family and a card for the godparents. In the card for godparents there is the extra attraction of a fridge magnet with a short prayer to pray for their godchild.
We also have prayer cards for members of our congregations which will be given out around the time baptisms are taking place. This will give you the name(s) of those being baptised and invite you to look out for when services are taking place and remember to pray for the child and their families.
Finally there are invitation cards for us to invite people who have come for baptism to other services and events.
They are in the process of developing a new preparation course for us to use. I am hoping to hear more about that in mid-October.
I have shown the materials to members of our church councils but if you would like to see anything just ask me, and as I suggested earlier, if you can take a look at the website – and give me any feedback that I can pass on so that we can make these resources even better.