Baptism brings about the birth of new life in Christ. The Orthodox Church practices infant baptism because historically it never required “understanding” as a pre-condition. To know God is the fruit of baptism. Baptism makes a person a participant in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and a member of His body the Church. This is the first step in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. The Church does have a responsibility to administer the sacrament only to those who have shown that this is the primary purpose for the baptism.
“Or are you ignorant that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by the baptism into the death, that even as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, thus also we should walk in newness of life. [Rom. 6].”
Requirements for parents of the child to be baptised
a. At least one parent married in the Orthodox Church (marriage certificate), and
b. At least one parent a subscribing member of the St Anne’s parish (subscriptions made), or
c. If new to St Anne’s parents must obtain a letter from their previous parish (translated) to demonstrate that they are active members of that parish and have that priest’s blessing for the baptism
Active Church Membership
A Baptism is a privilege that requires a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise the child in the Orthodox Church. If parents are not active members of the Church, you must demonstrate a desire to become active for the sacrament to be approved. Parents are the primary role models for their children in living a committed life to Christ. Commitment to Christ is expressed in regularly attending Sunday liturgy, participating in the sacramental life of the Church and being a current Steward (i.e. a subscribing member) of the Church.
If you were not married in the Orthodox Church, your marriage needs to be blessed in the Church in order to be in good standing. This is not required prior to baptizing a child but arrangements ought to be made to have the marriage blessed in the Church.
Baptisms should be arranged prior to the birth of the baby. It is not acceptable to arrive at church with a baby expecting an instant baptism. The services of Naming the Child and Churching Mother and Child should also be observed.
Choosing a Sponsor or Godparent: In the Baptismal service, the Church requires a Sponsor/Godparent .The Godparent is the one who vouches for the child and the family as to the sincerity of the reasons why they are seeking baptism. In addition, the godparents serve to guide, teach, and counsel their godchildren in the Orthodox faith. The Church requires that the Godparent be an Orthodox Christian in good standing; there are no exceptions to this rule. The priest can help couples in the selection of godparents if needed.
Requirements to Serve as a Godparent
Must be a communicating Orthodox Christian, either a member of St Anne’s or bearing a letter from current or previous parish. It is normal for the God parents to take communion at church at the first opportunity before the baptismal service and bring the child to communion for at least three communion services after.
A parishioner may serve as a sponsor in another Parish by presenting a letter of good standing from his or her home Parish Priest.
The Godparent anoints the child with blessed oil during the ceremony. By participating in the sacrament in this manner, the Godparent is making a pledge to guide and support their Godchild.
A person may not serve as a godparent if his or her marriage has not been blessed by the Church or, if civilly divorced, he or she has not been granted an ecclesiastical divorce, or for any other reason he or she is not in communion with the Orthodox Church.
40 Day Churching
When the mother and child return from the hospital, it is traditional for them to observe a period of 40 days during which they rest and recuperate from the delivery and refrain from traveling outside the home. The first place that the child is brought, then, is the Church, and what a beautiful sign of our dedication and hopes for the child than to offer him/her to the Lord!
Frequently asked Questions:
Naming the Child: If the child was not given a Christian name (a saint’s name) one must be selected. The giving of a Christian name establishes a life long relationship between the child and their saint.
Invitations: The printing of invitations should not be done until the date and time for the baptism has been confirmed with the Priest
Baptismal Candles and Martyrika (witness crosses w/ ribbon): Traditionally, the newly baptized receive a decorated candle at baptism. Some provide their guests with martyrika (witness pins) which can be personalized with the child’s name and date of the baptism.
Length of the Baptism: The Baptism service is approximately 45 minutes long.
Days when baptisms are not permitted: Baptisms may not be performed from Christmas Day through the Feast of Theophany (December 25-January 6), during Holy Week, or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord.
There is no fee for the Sacrament. The parish priest is a volunteer and does not receive payment for the sacraments. Nevertheless, the parish does need income to contribute to the costs of running the church- maintenance, heating, lighting , candles etc. Additional fees may be required for to pay for a choir to sing. If the parents are Subscribing Members of St Anne’s then there is no fee. Non-members will be required to either become Subscribing Members or offer a gift of £100. If you are unable to offer this, please speak to the priest.
The following items are either provided by the parents or the Godparents.
• Cross & Chain
• White Outfit for after the Service
• A Small Bottle of Olive Oil
• A Bar of Ivory soap
• 1 white hand towel
• 1 Large White Bath Towel - (If a double baptism – bring 2)
• 1 Large Candle- (If a double baptism – bring 2)
• Optional additional smaller candles for Children to participate in a procession
• A locket or something to contain the cut hair of the child.
The child, whatever age, will be baptized by full immersion. Although it is traditional for the person to be baptized to be naked, it is recommended, for the protection of the child, that toddlers and teenagers wear simple white shorts and t-shirt for the baptism. Photographs may be taken as long as the photographer does not interfere with the service and that the child is not shown in a state of undress.
Please download the information form below, complete it and send it to the parish priest