Baptism of Infants
Since the beginning the Church has baptised infants and children too young to make a commitment themselves on the strength of the faith of their parents and god-parents. Parents are expected to be active worshipping members of the Cathedral congregation. (In some cases there are good pastoral reasons why the Cathedral, as opposed to a local parish church, is the preferred setting.)
In the first instance parents seeking baptism for a child should contact the Cathedral Office (Tel 08 8267 4551). An initial interview with one of the clergy will be offered, followed by a number of sessions of preparation to help parents to think about and understand the commitment they are making on behalf of their child. It is not unusual for an unbaptised parent to be baptised at the same time as their child.
The ideal time for a baptism is in the context of a normal Sunday morning service.
Baptism when St Peter’s Cathedral is not your home church: Many people have a strong connection to St Peter’s Cathedral – through family, school, wedding or some other way. A letter of introduction from your local parish priest is expected before a baptism in the Cathedral. Those who are not part of a local church are encouraged either to make contact with their local church, or to become regular worshippers at the Cathedral before any baptism takes place.
Along with parents, the God-parents are asked to make their personal response to the love of Christ when they present a child for baptism. God-parents are not legal guardians, but people chosen by parents who they know will pray for the child and support him/her in those all-important formative years – through their own example of regular prayer and worship in the Church.
Thanksgiving for a child
Many parents wish to acknowledge the gift and privilege of a child without making the commitment which baptism involves. The Anglican Church offers a service of Thanksgiving for a Child. Please ask about this as it may well be an initial step towards baptism. This can be done in the Cathedral, at home or even in the maternity ward.
There is no such thing as ‘private’ baptism. Baptism is nearly always a community and congregational event. In cases where an infant’s life is threatened (e.g. due to medical emergency) a priest (or lay person) may baptise in a hospital or home, and the child is presented to and welcomed by the congregation as soon as possible.
Baptism of Adults
The Anglican Church has always baptised adults (and young people able to make their own promises to God and the church). Adults wishing to know more about how to be baptised are encouraged to talk to one of the Cathedral clergy. Adults will often be baptised at Easter, and should have a sponsor – usually a member of the Cathedral congregation who has traveled with the candidate during a time of preparation.
The next step is to contact the Cathedral Office to make an appointment with one of the Cathedral clergy. This will lead to a half hour conversation during which you will be given more information about preparation for this sacrament, and the chance to discuss arrangements.