The Methodist Church offers christening, also known as infant baptism, to the parents of a baby or very young child. The ritual acknowledges that children come from God and that parents have an obligation to provide a living example of the Christian faith for their child. The parents promise to teach the child Christian values and keep the child in the church until the child is old enough to make his own declaration of faith.
The baby may wear a christening gown during the ritual. Families with a long tradition of christenings may have a christening gown that is passed down from generation to generation. Grandparents may gift the gown to the new parents or purchase a new one if there are multiple children in the family. Christening gowns are typically white, lacy and very long.
A children’s Bible or storybook is a common christening and child baptism gift. The front pages of the Bible offer a place for the parents to record the date of the christening and may include a place for the minister to sign as the officiator. The parents may store the Bible until the child is old enough to appreciate the gift and care for it. Additional dates may be added, as well, including the child’s first communion, the date the child joins the church and other Christian celebrations.
A family member or friends may give the baby a small necklace or other piece of jewelry with some aspect of Christian symbolism, like a cross. The date of the christening may be engraved on the piece to honor the occasion. The infant may not wear the jewelry on a frequent basis, but it can still serve as a reminder of the significance of the event in the life of the child and her family.
Family members and friends may start an educational or savings fund for the child at this time. The family members and friends who stand with the parents and the baby during the ritual promise to help look after the child as she grows. A financial savings account can provide security for the child’s education needs when she is older and wants to pursue post-secondary education.
Pictures or memorial ornaments can help record the ritual for the family and the child. A Christmas tree ornament or other commemorative decoration may include the date of the christening and a picture of the baby and family.
- The Methodist Church of Great Britain: Baptism and Confirmation
- Inviting Smiles: Baptism vs Christening
- United Methodist Church: Baptism: Overview
- Order for the Administration of the Sacrament of Baptism; Methodist Publishing House; 1989
- mother with baby in church image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com