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Not quite a baptism

I’m not sure whether I witnessed something rather odd on Sunday, or whether it happens more often than I realise, so I thought I’d run it past Shipmates.

We were staying with family members and went to the parish eucharist at their church, a C of E village church which looked fairly MOTR from its website, for the first time. There was obviously about to be a baptism, with a baby in a christening gown being admired and the usual contingent of friends and family looking uncomfortable in formal clothes. But when the service began it turned out that it wasn’t in fact a baptism; the priest explained that the baby had been baptised a few weeks before in Texas (I assume one parent was British and one American) and was now being welcomed into the church where the family lived.

So far so good – but it turned out that they were going to do a re-run of the entire baptism. Of course there was no actual baptism, but they had absolutely everything else, the whole C of E baptismal liturgy from start to finish, with the water the priest had blessed sprinkled over the congregation (by a small girl from the not-baptism party). It felt rather strange, everything except the bit it was really all about.

Comments

  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Coming from a strict believer's baptism by immersion background and joining a mission I'd thought felt the same way, I was a little unnerved to hear my supervising pastor describe dedications of young children as "baptisms minus the water".

    On the strength of this, many years later I reassured a worried family member that the believer's baptism performed on their relative baptised as an infant was a "recommitment plus water".

    Of course the two takes on baptism have their theologies, and the issue of "re"-baptism is a bitter one, but my take is that a lot of us seem to need more or less the same rituals, with different labels attached.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Margaret wrote: »
    I’m not sure whether I witnessed something rather odd on Sunday, or whether it happens more often than I realise, so I thought I’d run it past Shipmates.

    We were staying with family members and went to the parish eucharist at their church, a C of E village church which looked fairly MOTR from its website, for the first time. There was obviously about to be a baptism, with a baby in a christening gown being admired and the usual contingent of friends and family looking uncomfortable in formal clothes. But when the service began it turned out that it wasn’t in fact a baptism; the priest explained that the baby had been baptised a few weeks before in Texas (I assume one parent was British and one American) and was now being welcomed into the church where the family lived.

    So far so good – but it turned out that they were going to do a re-run of the entire baptism. Of course there was no actual baptism, but they had absolutely everything else, the whole C of E baptismal liturgy from start to finish, with the water the priest had blessed sprinkled over the congregation (by a small girl from the not-baptism party). It felt rather strange, everything except the bit it was really all about.

    My good chunk of my brain is saying that the Vicar just failed 'Sacramental Theology 101.' I would have still bent the rules a bit, but used the old form for receiving a child previously baptized at home into the congregation from the BCP.
  • This sounds rather as if the child's family wanted (what I will call in neutral terms) a welcoming ceremony for the child in both America and Britain, and identified baptism as being that welcoming ceremony. But the British minister, having got there second, has identified that the child has already been baptised, so has very sensibly offered the family something which looks and feels a lot like a baptism - but which strictly isn't, because the CofE view* is that you can only be baptised once.

    So the family and their child have been welcomed by both parts of the family, and so presumably feel well disposed to the church and christianity. The letter of ecclesiastical law has been abided by. This sounds good and practical to me. What's not to like?

    *And I think lots of other peoples view..
  • PDR wrote: »
    My good chunk of my brain is saying that the Vicar just failed 'Sacramental Theology 101.' I would have still bent the rules a bit, but used the old form for receiving a child previously baptized at home into the congregation from the BCP.

    So it was a baptism service without the actual baptism, used as a reaffirmation? I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with that. It seems like some people re-affirming wedding vows do something similar.

    There's nothing wrong with promising to renounce Satan and his works on more than one occasion. The whole congregation gets to reaffirm their baptismal vows, and everyone gets to welcome the baby.

    It's clear that what the parents wanted to do was to achieve the family gathering, the public blessing, the party and the baby in a white dress with both sides of the family. It sounds as though they achieved that.
  • No different from my sons' friend being given "believers' baptism" at an HTB plant despite not only having been baptised as an infant but confirmed as well.

    What you saw was a fine example of a Cof E incumbent doing what they do best - making it up on the hoof and doing exactly as they please regardless of "the rules" , theology or logic.
  • No different from my sons' friend being given "believers' baptism" at an HTB plant despite not only having been baptised as an infant but confirmed as well.

    Of course it's different. In @Margaret's OP, the priest explicitly said that this wasn't a baptism because the child has already been baptized, and then proceeded to carefully not attempt to re-baptize the child.

    Apart from the baptism itself (which didn't happen in the service that Margaret witnessed), what in a C of E baptism service do you think you can only do once?
  • Err, formally "welcome" into the body of Christ? I mean, if you've been formally welcomed (especially as an adult) how can it happen again? Are those who welcome a second time implying that the first wasn't valid, didn't work, or only applied to that particular congregation?
  • Err, formally "welcome" into the body of Christ? I mean, if you've been formally welcomed (especially as an adult) how can it happen again?

    Here's a mundane example: sometimes when we have guests, my wife and I will each welcome them, because we're in different parts of the house. I don't think the fact that I welcome them claims that my wife's welcome wasn't valid, or that her welcome only applied to her.


  • Your son's 'believers' baptism' sounds like what the RCC call a conditional baptism, usually done if there is doubt about the original, because it may not have occurred or been insufficiently Trinitarian.

    RCs renew their baptismal vows at the Easter vigil or on Easter Sunday, including a good splash of the holy H2O. So as mentioned, nothing intrinsically wrong with that.
  • It seems to me that the ceremony was a renewal of the original baptism vows, just as is done in the RC church ( and I think in many CofE churches )at the Easter Vigil. At that ceremony the priest will usually sprinkle the whole congregation with the newly blessed baptismal water,just as Robertus L has said.

    If indeed the baby had already been baptised in Texas he or she would at the same time have been welcomed into the 'Church' as well as into the local church community.
    But perhaps it was the first time that the baby had come into the fellowship of the community in this village church. Surely it is only right that the baby should be (formally or informally ) welcomed into that local community.

    Many of the posters on these boards here will tell about seeking a church to 'join' even although they may (or may not ) already be baptised members of the Church.For some posters it is clear that they want to be welcomed into the local fellowship. It seems to me that the local community and the priest of this CofE community are trying to do this for a family who want their child to be 'recognised' as a member,no matter how temporary, of that group.
  • Back in the middle of the last decade a couple at my A-C student church had a daughter who was very premature so she was baptised in the hospital as it was touch and go at first. We then had a dedication service later in the year where the formal baptism promises were made by parents and godparents and the oil of catechumens and chrism was used. Obviously the emergency baptism scenario was a bit different, but it was no less a formal welcome and dedication for the water not being used. I don't remember having the asperges, but I think that has had a revival in the last few years, and become a bit more mainstream.

    Having once read a copy of the Common Worship baptism rite booklet, there are 3 options: 1) full baptism service, 2) dedication after baptism previously, 3) dedication but baptism will be at a later date. (Which I believe is principally there for the more evangelical end who promote believer's baptism, but can also cover cases where one parent objects to baptism, in which case the priest can't go ahead with it.)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    It seems to me that the ceremony was a renewal of the original baptism vows, just as is done in the RC church ( and I think in many CofE churches )at the Easter Vigil. At that ceremony the priest will usually sprinkle the whole congregation with the newly blessed baptismal water,just as Robertus L has said.

    If indeed the baby had already been baptised in Texas he or she would at the same time have been welcomed into the 'Church' as well as into the local church community.
    But perhaps it was the first time that the baby had come into the fellowship of the community in this village church. Surely it is only right that the baby should be (formally or informally ) welcomed into that local community.

    Many of the posters on these boards here will tell about seeking a church to 'join' even although they may (or may not ) already be baptised members of the Church.For some posters it is clear that they want to be welcomed into the local fellowship. It seems to me that the local community and the priest of this CofE community are trying to do this for a family who want their child to be 'recognised' as a member, no matter how temporary, of that group.

    Totally agree.

    At Dlet's birth, after a long and difficult labour, his score was low - about 1.25 on a scale of 5. Just in case, I baptised him using the normal words of baptising him in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, with sprinklings of tap water from the handbasin in Madame's room. Just in case, there was later a church baptism expressed to be on the basis "in case you have not previously been validly baptised" followed by the usual welcome into the congregation.
  • Last Sunday was candlmass, I've been at a candlemass service that included the renewal if baptism promises by everyone and at which everybody was sprinkled with the water from the font
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Common Worship provides in the case of an emergency baptism
    Service in Church.
    If the person lives, they shall afterwards come to church, or be brought to church, and the service for Holy Baptism followed, except that the Signing with the Cross, the Prayer over the Water and the Baptism are omitted.
    I’d have thought something along those line would be appropriate in this case.
    If everyone was going to be sprinkled, some prayer over the water would seem appropriate.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Not sure what AAPB said/says. The rector at the time was pretty good on his liturgy so I'd have no concerns about the service he gave. He covered the possibility that in the pressures of the time, and with both Madame and Dlet not exactly 100%, I had not got it right.
  • It is not unusual when a emergency baptism is performed the parents and sponsors with the child (assuming it is a child baptized) will stand before the congregation to affirm the baptism has taken place. Sometimes the congregation is also invited to reaffirm their own baptisms during this rite.
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