Thanksgiving & Baptism


I’m not certain I want to be baptised just yet!



Enquiring about baptism?

Please note our policy currently is to only extend the offer of Thanksgiving  and Baptism to those who live within the Parish of St Mary Great Sankey.


(We do also offer Thanksgiving and Baptism to Parents who live outside the Parish boundary and are regular worshippers at St Mary’s.)


A list of those roads that fall within the Parish boundary can be found by linking to:  Roads in Parish  Please note that Chapelford is not in our parish, it is in the Parish of St. James.


For all queries about Baptism, Weddings or Funerals at any of the West Warrington Churches (St Mary’s, St Paul’s, St Philip’s, St James) please contact the Team Office on 07481842997



The birth of some children is carefully planned; others come as a fantastic surprise! But it is always a wonderful privilege and a great responsibility to care for a young child. So it is very natural to want to give thanks to God for one of the greatest gifts he has ever given you, and to ask his blessing on your child and your family.

At St Mary’s we will be delighted to support you in this and to help you thank God for his gift to you.


There are two ways open to you as you think toward celebrating this very special time for your child and your family here at St Mary’s.


  1. You can decide to have a Thanksgiving for your child.
  2. You can choose to have Thanksgiving and follow this by going on to learn more about the Christian faith before having a Service of Baptism some time later, typically six months.

Why do we offer the different options?


Some families feel that Thanksgiving alone is more suitable for them in their present circumstances.


However, some families choose to have the baptism service as well as thanksgiving. This happens when parents desire to have a deeper understanding of what baptism means within the Christian faith.


We will help you to gain that understanding prior to the service of baptism. As a church community we want to see all people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Many families start coming to church after the birth of a child even if they have not been regular churchgoers in the past.

Coming to St Mary’s for several weeks prior to the baptism of your child will help you understand more about the church family you are joining and give an insight into the Christian faith you are exploring together as a family.


The main service is at 10.00am each Sunday. We are not asking you to join us every Sunday but to come when it is possible within your present commitments.

You are likely to see a Thanksgiving and/or a Baptism in action and this may help you to understand it more fully and demonstrate how important we consider it is.


Both the Thanksgiving and Baptism Service will take place on a Sunday.


Babies are especially welcome at St Mary’s, reminding us constantly of new life offered by God. We have a room at the back of the church for feeding your child in privacy and for ‘break away’ time from the service should it become necessary. We have baby changing facilities available too.


It may be that any other children in your family may want to be part of our ‘Lightening’ group which meets during our Sunday service to learn more about Jesus from other Christian parents in our church family.


So if you choose to have a Thanksgiving alone what will it involve?


The three principal ingredients of the Thanksgiving Service are:



  1. Thanking God.

As its name suggests, the whole purpose of this part of our Sunday service is to say a heartfelt thank you to God for His wonderful gift of your child. The Vicar will say prayers on your behalf.


  1. Praying for your family.

We will pray for your child and for any other children you may already have. We will pray especially for you as parents, in your responsibility of bringing up your child.


3.      Receiving a book.

You will be given a copy of one of the Gospels:

§         A permanent reminder of the Thanksgiving

§         For you to read yourselves to help you understand Christ and his teaching more fully.

§         For you to read to your child in a few years time, when they are old enough to understand.


We encourage you to invite parents, Godparents, family members and friends to the thanksgiving but we must point out that our normal congregation will want to share in this occasion too, so numbers may need to limited. For Thanksgiving, you can dress your child in traditional family christening robe if you wish and you can have a celebration following the service too.


Whilst we would really welcome the prospect of you and your family becoming regular worshippers with us at St Mary’s, when the option of ‘Thanksgiving only’ is chosen, there is no expectation of you to become any further committed to the church family. 


Why would you want to have a ‘Thanksgiving only?’


There are probably 3 main reasons why families choose the option of Thanksgiving only:


  • They simply want to give thanks to God for their child. This is their main wish and they have no desire to do anymore or to become any more involved in the church community.
  • During the thanksgiving part of the service they are making no promises. In the Baptism Service however, parents and Godparents make some very serious promises and commitments and there is a need to answer some very big questions before God.
  • They would prefer their child to experience baptism when they are older and able to decide for themselves where their faith lies.


What happens if you decide to follow the ‘Thanksgiving’ with a Baptism Service?


You will be given the opportunity as parents to explore the Christian faith and learn more about the place of baptism in the Christian life. This would be prior to the baptism service taking place. More is said about this later under “What will be involved in preparing for baptism?”


What Happens during a service of baptism?


There are three principal ingredients in a Baptism Service:


       Parents and Godparents make promises.

At three points in the Baptism Service, parents and Godparents together make promises to God about their own Christian faith and about bringing up their children to know Christ and to come regularly to church.


Water is poured over the child’s forehead

The vicar will take your child into his arms and pour water three times over the child’s head, baptising in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This takes place at the front of the church using a contemporary font.


The child is welcomed into the church family.

At Baptism you will be making a commitment to bring up your child as a member of the church community. So the whole congregation ‘welcomes’ its newest member. You and your family will be encouraged to become regular worshippers with greater involvement in the wider life of the church.


Our regular congregation will be part of this service and so we ask that in your planning for Baptism the numbers of guests are kept reasonably limited.


The Promises?


Quite rightly people want to know what responsibility the promises they will be making to God place on them as a parents. It’s important to know this so you can decide whether baptism is right for your family.


Essentially the promises you make place the following responsibility on you:


  • To pray regularly for your child
  • To teach your child about Jesus: His life, teaching, death and rising to new life again and to encourage the spiritual development of your child.
  •  To become an active part of the church community at St Mary’s and to join together in worship as a family at least once a month when possible.
  • To encourage your child to become part of our children’s church at least from the age of three.


Godparents should also be aware that they too make promises in baptism and they are expected to share the responsibility for your child’s spiritual development with you.


In order to fulfil this important task we consider it is essential to be part of the church community where you can find help, support and encouragement through prayer for the responsibility you have accepted in baptism.


What will be involved in preparing for baptism?


There are many important things to consider in deciding to have a baptism for your child. The promises you are asked to make should not be taken lightly.


To help you understand more about the Christian faith, two preparation evenings will be held, each lasting about an hour.


On these evenings we will look together at ‘Christian basics’ and look at some other Christian folk telling us about their faith journey on DVD. It would be helpful if those you have chosen as Godparents would also consider coming to these preparation evenings as they too have promises to make during the service with regard to their own faith and responsibilities.


At St Mary’s we consider baptism to be immensely important and our desire is that parents clearly understand the step they are taking in seeking the ‘Sacrament' of Baptism. We want your choice regarding baptism to be an informed one. We believe this time of preparation gives parents the opportunity to reflect on their own relationship with God and also provide the opportunity to ask questions about the Christian faith. It is also an opportunity for you as parents to become more familiar with the church family here at St Mary’s.


Why choose thanksgiving and baptism?


The three main reasons why families may choose the option of Thanksgiving – and – Baptism some time later are:


  • They want to make promises before God after the birth of their child, because they feel this will make them be better parents.


  • They want to become part of St Mary’s church family. Baptism is a way of identifying you and your family with your local church. Many couples want

to do this after the birth of their child, even if they have not previously been regular church-goers.       


  • They recognise that they may not have considered fully, the responsibility placed on them as Christian parents, and consider the preparation time an important element in gaining insight and understanding into the Christian faith. 


What about Godparents?


It is normal to have Godparents whichever option you choose (Thanksgiving alone or Thanksgiving followed by Baptism some time later.)


Godparents promise to help your family in three ways:


  1. To care for your child, taking a special interest in their Godchild.


  1. To pray for your child, asking God to bless your family.


  1. Godparents also promise to encourage your child to learn about Christ and join the local church community.



We hope you have found this information helpful and challenging and ask that you now take time to reflect and pray about what you consider may be right for you as a family.


We of course look forward to welcoming you at our 10.00am Sunday service as you begin to explore the path to follow, please feel comfortable to ask any member of our church family about their own journey of faith, it may provide some helpful insight into your own journey, at the very least strangers can become new friends.


It may be helpful to use the following prayer in your preparation time. Simply say it in the quietness of your own heart and ask God for guidance in your decision making:


Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of (Use your child’s name here)

Be with us now, in this our time of preparation. As we consider (Your child’s name here) spiritual development. We ask for the guidance of your Holy Spirit as we seek the best way forward for our family. Create in our hearts a desire to know you more clearly, and to understand your will in our lives.



May the Lord continue to bless you and your family.



The Wardens and Parochial Church Council

St Mary Great Sankey   

July 2009