As the Parish Church in Hayes, St. Mary's congregation welcomes children with open arms and open hearts. I guess this is in line with the attitude of our Saviour Jesus Christ who said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them...' (Mark 10:14).
Baptism or thanksgiving services are special occasions when we love to see children in the church. In St. Mary's each year we baptise a considerable number of children. Our hope and prayer is to be able to baptise all the children in Hayes. Baptism is a serious commitment to the faith of Christ so for our part we try our best to prepare parents especially for the task. These preparations are obviously within the Church of England's Baptism rules which require the parish clergy to properly prepare parents for the responsibilities they would be taking on.
We all live a very busy life and it is understandable that not all parents at the time of enquiry feel ready to make baptismal commitments for their children, but would still like in some way to thank God for the new birth. We at St. Mary's Church love to accommodate such parents. Please know that as from 2016 we do offer a different service for such families. This service is known as a 'thanksgiving service for the new-born child'. This is a very special service but is not an alternative to baptism. As its name suggests, it is a thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the little one and mum's wellbeing. The service is provided in the hope that in the future when parents feel more ready they would bring their child for baptism. In the thanksgiving service parents are welcome to nominate supporting friends but these are not known as godparents. Godparents' role comes with the baptism. The thanksgiving service takes place after the 10:30 am church service.
Having briefly explained the thanksgiving service, I think it would be perhaps helpful if I give a brief summary of our baptism policy too. As written above we welcome all children to our church. However, before baptism parents are required to attend preparation classes, usually three to four sessions, each about an hour's length. Please also note from Autumn 2016 baptisms will take place within the main morning services of St. Mary's Hayes; on the first or second Sunday of the month. (In exceptional circumstances it would still be possible to have a separate service as was the norm in the past). This again is really in line with what is hoped in the Church of England, i.e. if at all possible the child should be baptised within the normal church service when the regular worshippers are present to welcome the newly baptised.
If you would like to discuss your child's baptism or thanksgiving service, please do contact St. Mary's church office. Brenda will be happy to help and arrange for you to meet either me or Reverend Lyn.
May the Lord give you wisdom and all the strength you need to bring up children in the way of Christ.
Always yours in Christ's service