Baptisms / Christenings / Confirmations

Details of Confirmations for May 2016 - please click for details


The average number of baptisms (sometimes called Christenings) each year in the Anglican parish of Dorchester is around 45.

Most of these are of babies but older children and adults are baptised too.

The Church of England welcomes the newly baptised as members of the Church.

The service includes:

  • Readings from the bible
  • Vows and promises made by the candidate (the person to be baptised) or by parents and godparents on behalf of the candidate
  • The signing with oil of the candidate with the cross on the forehead
  • A statement of faith (the Creed)
  • The baptism itself
  • Prayers
  • Welcome of the newly baptised into the family of the Church

There are a lot of things to think about before deciding on a service of baptism: practical things such as when to have the service and who to invite, but also questions about what it means to be a member of the Church, the role of godparents and where baptism fits into the overall picture of the Christian life and journey.

The words printed below are from the introduction to the baptism service. They set out the meaning and purpose of the service.

Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us in Christ, making serious promises and declaring the faith. The wider community of the local church and friends welcome the new Christian, promising support and prayer for the future. Hearing and doing these things provides an opportunity to remember our own baptism and reflect on the progress made on that journey, which is now to be shared with this new member of the Church.

The service paints many vivid pictures of what happens on the Christian way. There is 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, where we believe we die to sin and are raised to new life, unites us to Christ’s dying and rising, a picture that can be brought home vividly by the way the baptism is administered. Water is also a sign of new life, as we are born again by water and the Spirit. This reminds us of Jesus’ baptism. And as a sign of that new life, there may be a lighted candle, a picture of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of evil. Everyone who is baptized walks in that light for the rest of their lives.

As you pray for the candidates, picture them with yourself and the whole Church throughout the ages, journeying into the fullness of God’s love. Some people who decide not to have a service of baptism still want to express to God their thanksgiving for the birth of their child. The difference between this and baptism is explained below.

Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child

The birth or adoption of a child is a cause for celebration. Many people are overcome by a sense of awe at the creation of new life and want to express their thanks to God. This service provides an opportunity for parents and families to give thanks for the birth or adoption of a child and to pray for family life. It may be a private celebration at home or in hospital, or it may be a public celebration in church, sometimes with a number of children.

This service is not the same as Baptism (sometimes called Christening), which is the sacrament of initiation into membership of the Church, the Body of Christ.

The service includes:

  • Readings from the bible
  • Thanksgiving and blessing
  • The giving of a copy of the Gospel
  • Prayers

The clergy from St. Peter’s, St. Mary’s and St. George’s are glad to talk with anyone considering either baptism or a service of thanksgiving. And to discuss confirmation, in which an adult or a child from about age 10 upwards makes the vows and promises previously made on his or her behalf by parents and godparents at baptism.