Children are a gift from God. Naturally, many parents want to celebrate their arrival with some form of service in church. The Churches of the Len Valley Benefice (St. Nicholas, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary and All Saints) are part of the Church of England which, like many churches, uses two main services to celebrate the birth of a child:
Baptism (often called ‘Christening’)
Both take place during our morning family worship services.
THANKSGIVING - Thanksgiving is a service for those who wish, quite simply, to say ‘thank you’ to God for their child. We say prayers for the child and the family, we name and bless the child and give a children’s Bible which tells the story of Jesus.
BAPTISM - Baptism is for those who want to state their intention to bring up their child as a Christian. It is a commitment to Jesus Christ and to the Church. As well as making a public commitment, we name the child, water is poured over the child as a sign of God's cleansing, and prayers are said. Baptism is the beginning of being part of the Christian Church. Families bringing their child for baptism hope that one day their child will make this commitment to follow the way of Jesus Christ for themselves ('confirmation' in the Church of England). We all need help and encouragement from each other through attending church to nurture and explore our faith.
Before we conduct a baptism, we ask you to come regularly to church services; and, of course, to continue to do so afterwards with your child(ren). We have a range of services in LVB, from traditional to services that are particularly child- and family-friendly.
Visit this great Church of England website for more: Click here
Some questions answered
What is the role of a godparent?
Godparents are those who agree to be especially concerned for their Godchild's development, particularly their spiritual growth. They will be committed to pray for them. You need at least two Godparents of the same gender as the child and one of the opposite sex. They need to be baptised (also, ideally, confirmed). Why not visit the Church of England Website to find out more? Click here
Once my child has been Christened, have I completed my Christian duty?
No, baptism marks a beginning! At baptism, parents and Godparents commit themselves to help the child grow up as a Christian, believing in the God revealed in Jesus Christ and following his ways. Parents need to encourage their children to come to church to worship regularly, to read the Bible and to pray. These will be crucial if your child is to continue in the Christian faith. The Church will give you plenty of help with this!
Is my child worse off if we choose Thanksgiving?
Not at all! God loves everyone, whether your child has had a Service of Baptism, Thanksgiving or even nothing at all!
What if I want baptism but don't feel I can make a clear commitment to Jesus Christ and his Church?
It is important that at least one parent is able to say the baptismal promises honestly and with integrity. If neither of you think you can do that, then it is best to have a thanksgiving service, or to wait. There is no hurry to have your baby ‘done’! You may want to think more about the implications of Christian faith for you and your family. If so, we can arrange a course that can help you do this.
What do I do next?
We have a baptism enquiry evening every three months. This is a one-hour meeting for enquirers to come and find out more about baptism and thanksgiving services and to meet the clergy and baptism visitors. Please ring Sarah Hills (01622 850604) for details of the next meeting
Contact the Parish Office between 9.30am and 12.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday to arrange to talk to someone about the next step for you. Leave a message if you ring out of hours.
If you have not been to a service at one of our churches before, come along to one of our family services, breakfast services or to Messy Church (here); there is a rota below. There are facilities and groups for children. The service lasts about an hour and would be an ideal opportunity to get a feel for what you are undertaking, especially if you are planning on a Service of Baptism.
If you decide to go ahead with baptism, you will need to arrange for the Baptism visitors and clergy to meet with you at times to suit the family. We will also need to meet with the Godparents before the baptism.
Family service times
St. Nicholas, Boughton Malherbe: 9.30am on the 4th Sunday of the month
St. John the Baptist, Harrietsham: 3.30pm on the 1st Sunday of the month
St. Mary, Lenham: 9.30am on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sunday - Breakfast Service and 11.00am on the 4th Sunday of the month
All Saints, Ulcombe: 11.00am Breakfast service on 1st Sunday of the month
Some useful numbers:
Rev Millie Hart 01622 297296
email: Rev Millie
Office administrator (Sarah Hills): 01622 850604 (9.30am – 12.30 Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. Please do leave a message out of hours)