Baptisms, Thanksgivings, and Confirmation
There are special times in our lives that we hold ceremonies in relation to our Christian faith. For example, when child is born, we often want to give thanks to God for the gift of new life. Some parents wish to mark the beginning of the child's spiritual journey and for the child to be baptized and welcomed into the church family. And for young people or adults who come to faith they often want to confirm those promises for themselves.
The Anglican Church of Bermuda offers three options: baptisms, thanksgivings, and confirmation and your local church minister will be happy to meet you to discuss the options.
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives and the first step in response to God’s love.
Baptisms only happen only once in our lives and a person cannot be re-baptized. In the Anglican Church we recognize baptisms from other Christian denominations, and for those who are baptized that would like to mark their faith in the Anglican church, we offer Confirmation.
Children and Adults
In the Anglican Church, anyone can be baptized, no matter what age. If the child is unable to make promises and declare their faith then their parent(s) or carer(s) may do so on their behalf. For this reason, parent(s) or carer(s) must themselves be baptized Christians with an active faith in Jesus Christ.
Godparents and Sponsors
Any baptized person of any age may have one or more godparents or sponsors. Like the parents, Godparents also make promises and a declaration of faith and therefore they should be baptized Christians who follow Jesus Christ. For those unable to make these promises, there is the option to be a sponsor.
Candidates for baptism are marked with the sign of the cross, the badge of faith in the Christian journey, which reminds us of Christ’s death for us.
Our ‘drowning’ in the water of baptism is a sign that the candidate believes they die to sin and are raised to new life, and are united to Christ’s dying and rising. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit and this also reminds us of Jesus’ baptism.
As a sign of new life, a lighted candle is presented to the candidate. This candle is a sign of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives.
The Church Community
Baptism is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. For this reason, baptisms typically take place in the local parish church and within the context of worship.
In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. Therefore I ask:
Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them.
Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them.
Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them.
Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ.
Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ.
Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ.
A Thanksgiving is where we give joyful thanks and prayer to God for your child, and still provide the wonderful opportunity for family and friends to celebrate together.
A Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks to God for your child where either the parent(s) or carer(s) feel unable to make the promises and declarations of faith associated with baptism or where the parent(s) or carer(s) wish the child to be able make their own choice whether to be baptized.
Godparents and Sponsors
A Thanksgiving may have Godparents or Sponsors, and like the parent(s) or carer(s) they are not required make promises or declare their faith.
Thanksgivings can take place in the church building or at another venue such as a private home, cliff-top, or beach.
At a Thanksgiving, a Bible or candle may be presented to the candidate, and some families which to mark the occasion with a special memento such as a tree-planting.
Confirmation is a special church service in which a person confirms the promises that were made when they were baptized and for adults takes place at the same time as baptism.
At a confirmation service, the candidate makes promises for themselves. Their friends and family as well as the local Christian community will be there to promise to support and pray for you.
The Holy Spirit
The bishop lays hands on the candidates head and ask God’s Holy Spirit to give them the strength and commitment to live God’s way for the rest of their lives.
Confirmation usually takes place in a special service in your own parish church, at the cathedral, or in another parish church, although it may take place during the main Sunday worship at your own church.
The candidates may like a sponsor to stand with them as a supporting friend in their journey of faith. Usually this is someone who has previously been confirmed. It may be one of the people who has prepared you for confirmation, or it may be a youth worker, a good friend, a relative, or a godparent.
The bishop extends his hands towards those to be confirmed and says:
Almighty and ever-living God,
you have given these your servants new birth
in baptism by water and the Spirit,
and have forgiven them all their sins.
Let your Holy Spirit rest upon them:
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding;
the Spirit of counsel and inward strength;
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness;
and let their delight be in the fear of the Lord.
The bishop addresses each candidate by name
N, God has called you by name and made you his own.
He then lays his hand on the head of each, saying
Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.