Baptism + News Ways to Engage, Grow and Deepen with Young Families/Under 5’s

Posted on Tuesday 2 July 2019
As a Diocese we want to ensure that we provide a proper welcome for families that approach the Church for a Christening/Baptism or Thanksgiving service. The Revd Olivia Coles is our Baptism+ Coordinator and over the last year she has been growing existing ministries, engaging with new opportunities and deepening outreach with families and young children.

Olivia’s work has included working closely with some of our Baptism ALM’s (Authorised Lay Ministers), helping them think about their contexts and how they can work with their clergy and continue to build relationships and support families coming for a Baptism/Christening.  This includes thinking about the welcome before the service and ideas to help families journey in faith with their child following a baptism. 

One of the key things Olivia has been encouraging churches to think about doing, as part of the ministry to Under 5’s, is to run is a Starting Ritecourse (a five-week spiritual nurture course to journey with new parents and babies under one). This has included establishing a Facebook Starting Rite Group for anyone wanting to run a Starting Ritecourse to exchange ideas, tips and support. As well as information on Resource Hubs where you can borrow equipment to run the courses.

CASE STUDY

One example of one of the groups she has been working with is the Grimshoe Benefice(the parishes of Feltwell, Hockwold, Northwold, Southery & Weeting) where  they have set up a Baptism team, led by Tracey Rudge who recently trained as a Baptism ALM.

A reflection of the work so far by Tracey Rudge

 “Having someone come into the Benefice who can take on the role of coordinating Baptism and devote time to spend with the families leading up to the Christening and beyond has two major advantages; the first is that they are fresh and unburdened by other church duties, and the second is that they free up the valuable time of the incumbent who can focus on those things that only an ordained person can do. They also believe that having a “civilian” church contact can overcome any potential barriers, real or imagined, for non-church families perhaps having to deal with the church for the first time in their lives. For that reason, it is essential that their first impression should be one of unbiased welcome, and that first impression should be constantly reinforced by all that we say and do from that first contact.”

So what do we do?

  1. Baptism Goodies –Given to the family at the same time as the lit baptism candle (Pocket Prayers and Fridge Magnet are put into a small gift bag along with a hand-knitted Baptism bear that has a label showing the candidate’s name and date of Christening.)
  2. Baptism Poster – Blank
  3. Baptism Poster Photo – A completed poster on display (apologies for poor image quality)
  4. Correspondence Card 

PRE CHRISTENING

  • When I took on the role of Grimshoe Baptism Team Coordinator I set up an email account - Grimshoebaptism@gmail.com
  • Every baptism request is passed to me and/or directed to that email address and the contact details are publicised through other church communications.
  • Every request for a christening is responded to with an enthusiastic “Yes”. If there are any conditions that need to be met that is part of the first meeting chat, it is NOT part of the initial response.
  • From that “yes” I go and meet the family and chat about their hopes and desires for their child and for the christening event.
  • I see the family again closer to the christening date.
  • Candidates and their families are listed in out weekly church news magazines asking our church family to pray for them; we do not publish surnames.

CHRISTENING

  • There is an easel displaying the candidate’s name (a pre-printed form that has space for adhesive felt letters to spell out the names of the child but not their surname.
  • The easel will have some balloons attached to it; these are given to the parents or the candidate (depending on their age), or the candidate’s siblings.
  • I greet the family and introduce them to the presiding Vicar.
  • I greet the Godparents and give them a badge; wearing it on the day can help the Vicar easily identify the Godparents and it serves as a memento of their day.
  • There is a “goody bag” given with the lit candle; this includes a Baptism bear, a pocket prayer book for children and a fridge magnet.

POST CHRISTENING

  • The Baptism poster is not given to the parents at the end of the service; I keep this and drop it round some weeks after the service and have a catch-up chat.

FUTURE CONTACT

  • I keep an excel table so that I can send out cards on the anniversary of the Christening.
  • I have designed a “correspondence card” which will be used whenever I want to send information and include a message to say that we are thinking of the family and continue to pray for them. The card is designed to keep reminding all concerned that the Christening is not about one day but about an ongoing amazing journey. I have purchased some advent calendars and these will be sent out in the next 2 weeks together with a list of Christmas services that might be of interest to the families.  

This is only one example, if you’d like to find out more, or have any questions., please contact: Revd Olivia Coles olivia.coles@elydiocese.org 01353 652740 or 07720 985 889