Letter: Many alternatives to the baptism service

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The Independent Online
Sir: Since the publication of its Assorted Services Book in 1980, the Church of England has offered an alternative to 'christening' that does not commit parents to full acceptance of the Christian faith. The Service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child offers an act of thanksgiving, the naming of the child, and a prayer that the parents or guardians of the child may have the wisdom and understanding necessary for the child's growth and formation as an adult. The service also acts as a thanksgiving after adoption.

At Saint Peter's, Edmonton, where I have worked for almost 10 years, this service is used for all who have new children, whether church people or not. A certificate is issued, stating that the child has been enrolled as an 'infant catechumen' (learner in the faith). An adapted form is also used for non-baptised adults who wish to explore further their relationship with God through the Christian faith.

For many parents, the Service of Thanksgiving offers what they most need - a celebration of their share in the creative activity of God's world, a public acclamation of their child's life, and the support of friends and relations as their responsibilities for a new life begin to develop. Sadly, those who are pressurised by relations steeped in the traditions of a previous era, see this service as second-class in nature.

Yours sincerely,

BRIAN SMITH

Saint Peter's Church

London, N9

23 July

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