Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16-17)
A Thanksgiving service is a structured rite of celebration in a friendly Christian church setting. It is about
- thanking God for creating this new person and for the baby’s family
- giving family and friends an opportunity to welcome the baby, share their joy and express their intention to surround the baby with love
- welcoming your baby into the wider community and human family
- praying for your baby and his or her family and friends
The service can also include the various solemn promises that the parents and the church make in a Baptism service, where these are appropriate.
For parents who don’t yet feel ready to join our church, a Thanksgiving service is a significant and meaningful alternative to a Christening.
A Baptism service (Christening) has elements of the Thanksgiving service, but is very explicitly focussed on welcoming the baby into the faith and family of Jesus Christ. It is a formal ceremony that includes the Biblical practice of baptism with water, and is recognised by most mainstream Christian churches.
At Annandale Uniting, our understanding is that our baptism of children can only be appropriate where one or both of the parents are strongly committed to raising their children in the Christian faith and as part of our church community.
Baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime sacred event. Many committed Christian parents choose a Thanksgiving or Dedication Service instead of Baptism, as they want to leave the opportunity open to their child to be baptised as an adult.
Where parents are uncertain of their relationship with Jesus Christ, or have not been part of a church for many years (even not since their own childhood), a new baby is a great opportunity to re-explore faith and spiritual things in an adult context. We hope that if this applies to you, you will consider spending time with us to explore your questions. Maybe you will even choose to become part of our community. We think it’s worth it!
A Dedication service is for parents who wish to dedicate their child and themselves to God and are committed to raising their child in the Christian faith.
We recommend that you come to our Sunday morning services for a couple of weeks to “check us out” and so we can show you around. Services go from 9.30 am until around 10.45. We then have morning tea in the large hall out the back, a great chance to talk more with one of the Elders or other church members.
Once a request for Thanksgiving, Baptism or Dedication on a convenient date has been approved by the church’s Council of Elders, one of the Elders plans the actual ceremony. This planning process includes discussion with the parent(s) so that your wishes can be taken into account.
The ceremony is a short part (5-15 minutes) of our normal Sunday morning family church service. In a typical format, the worship leader invites the parents, with their Elder, to bring the baby to the front of the church. The baby’s older siblings and support people or godparents (if any) also come to the front. An Elder and sometimes a minister or a member of the church lead the ceremony. It includes prayers, Bible readings, responses, and a chance for everyone present to see and welcome the baby as he or she is carried around the church.
The ceremony is usually fairly early in the overall church service. After the ceremony all children aged two or older are welcome to attend our Sunday School, held in a different building on site. Everyone present is invited to stay for morning tea in the hall afterwards.
We hope you’ll join us – we’re looking forward to seeing you!