Baptism is the rite of passage which welcomes someone into the Christian Church and represents the beginning of a new life and Christian journey. It can take place at any point in a person's life. It is the sign that someone belongs to Christ and that is why baptism is sometimes known as christening. It is also the sign that someone has repented of (turned away from) their bad ways and has accepted that they can only do this with the help of God and his Holy Spirit.

Everyone who is going to be baptised at St James's (or their family, if a child) will be visited first by a member of the clergy and then a St James's parish visitor will follow up explaining the service and answering any questions. The parish visitor will also be a friendly face within the church community. 

At St James's, baptism takes place during a Parish Communion service, a Together at Eleven service or occasionally as a separate service. For two years after the baptism, those baptised will receive a card and be invited to a tea party to continue to celebrate their membership of the Church.

The word baptism means to ‘dunk’ or ‘immerse’ in water. In the Anglican tradition the water is poured into a Font (font comes from fountain). When a baptism takes place at the front of the church, a smaller portable font is used. 

When someone is baptised the minister pours water on his or her head, in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Water shows that becoming a Christian makes us 'clean' - forgiven by God. The minister then draws a cross in special oil on the forehead, as a sign of the person's new life with Christ. A candle is lit during the service and its light is a symbol of that person moving from spiritual darkness into light.


During the baptism of babies and toddlers, certain promises and declarations of faith are made by the parents and godparents on behalf of the child. Godparents play an important role and they should pray regularly for the child, set a good example, take a keen interest in him/her and generally be regarded as a friend. It is customary that there are at least three godparents, of whom at least two shall be of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. Godparents must themselves be baptised.

Find out more

Common Worship with Holy Baptism (service booklet)
Baptism (Church of England website)


Revd Derek Winterburn on 020 8241 5904


Baptism Baptism Baptism


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