Rev Gary John Owen MA

Rev Gary John Owen MA
The Benefice of Eynsford with Farningham and Lullingstone
St. Martin of Tours, Eynsford
Ss. Peter & Paul, Farningham
St Botolph, Lullingstone
The Rectory
01322 863050
[email protected]
Thank you so much for your enquiry about a Christening in St Peter and St Paul’s
church. Within the benefice we offer the following two services:
Thanksgiving for the birth of a child
In this service we:
 Give thanks for the birth of your child.
 Bless your child and pray for him or her.
Baptism (commonly called Christening)
In this service:
 You promise to bring your child up as a Christian; praying for them and bringing them
to church.
 You speak for your child, saying that they are a follower of Jesus, hoping and praying
that they will grow up to accept this for themselves when they are old enough.
 We baptise your child into the church family, welcome them and bless them.
 We promise to support your child in his or her journey of faith.
To help you decide which service is more appropriate for you and your child we have
enclosed a sheet giving a slightly more detailed description of each service and what it
When do the services take place?
Both a Thanksgiving and a Baptism take place within the context of one of our main
church services. In Eynsford this will normally be in the 9.30am service on the first or third
Sunday of the month. In Farningham it would be at 9.30am on the second or fourth Sunday.
In Lullingstone the service is at 11.00am and the second and fourth Sundays are usually
Do we do afternoon or “private” services?
No. Whilst some churches do conduct baptisms or thanksgiving services of an afternoon
(and we have in the past) the rules of the Church of England are that Baptisms and
Thanksgivings should take place within the context of a main church service.
The reasons for baptisms taking place in the main morning service are:
 The child is being baptised into the Church. It makes much more sense to do this
when the Church has gathered to worship. We are then able to welcome the child into
the church family.
 The congregation promises to support the child in their journey of faith. They cannot
do this if they are not present.
 A baptism provides a reminder to all gathered of their own baptism and any promises
to bring up their own children in the Christian faith.
Thanksgivings take place within a main morning service as:
 The church family are present to offer prayers for the child.
Is there a cost for either service?
No! As a church we are delighted to offer both services free of charge. Jesus welcomed
children and blessed them. We want to do the same.
If you wish to make a donation to church we suggest that you put something in the
collecting plate when it comes round during the service.
We live outside of the Benefice. Can we still have a service in one of the churches?
Generally it is a good idea to have a service in the parish church where you live. It’s much
easier to get involved in a church when you live close to it and that church will be better
placed to support you.
However, we recognise that sometimes there is a good reason to have a Thanksgiving or
Baptism in a parish other than the one in which you live. Such reasons include:
 you grew up in the parishes,
 your parents live in the parishes,
 you regularly attend church in the parish (or are willing to do so).
If you live outside of our parishes and attend church with us regularly we would expect
you to join our electoral roll. If you intend to worship regularly in your home parish but are
coming to us for the service for family reasons (eg your parent’s home is in our parish) you
would need to seek the goodwill of the parish where you live.
What do we do next?
The next step is to contact me and arrange to meet up. I would be delighted to visit you
in your home, but you are equally welcome to come to the Rectory. At this meeting we can
explore further which service is appropriate for you. You can ask me any questions you
have and I can explain a little about the ways we as a church would be able to support you
and your children in the Christian faith. If you wish to, we would then be able to book a
date and time to conduct a service.
With best wishes
Gary Owen
Rector of Eynsford with Farningham and Lullingstone
Thanksgiving for the gift of a child
A Thanksgiving gives families a perfect opportunity to celebrate the birth of their child
with family and friends, and to ask the church to bless and pray for their children. Sponsors
may be chosen by the parents to support their child. The child may be ‘named’.
A thanksgiving follows the following pattern:
Thanksgiving for the birth of the child
Naming of the child
Blessing of the child
Giving of a Gospel
[Promises of support from sponsors]
The service does not involve any statements of faith or promises about how a child will
be raised. The emphasis of the service is upon giving thanks to God for the safe arrival in
the world of a new life and upon prayer and blessing for the child concerned. Some parents
prefer this service as they wish to allow children the opportunity to be baptised when they
are old enough to make up their own minds and experience the joy of being baptised as an
act of personal commitment to Christ.
You can read the text of the service at
Infant Baptism (commonly called Christening)
A baptism involves parents making a serious commitment about the way they will bring
up their child. It will necessarily involve teaching a child the Christian faith, and bringing him
to church regularly. If this is what you intend to do, then it is a wonderful way of publicly
making this commitment to your child, the Church and God.
Why does the Church baptise?
At his ascension to heaven, Jesus told his followers to go and tell people all about him.
When people came to believe in him, and were ready to give their lives to following him,
then his disciples were to baptise them. The first people to be baptised were therefore
adults who came to believe in Jesus and who wanted to join this group of people united in
the common conviction that "Jesus is Lord"
However, from the very earliest days of the church, we find children being baptised.
This was because their parents, who were Christians, wanted their children to grow up as
followers of Jesus. Parents promised to bring their children up as Christians and their
children were baptised on this understanding; that when they were grown up they would
make their own adult commitment to living for Jesus as part of his people.
What is the point of baptism?
Baptism is a very special thing. It is one of the two 'Sacraments' of the church. A
sacrament is 'an outward and visible sign of an inward invisible grace'.
The outward sign in baptism is the 'dipping' or sprinkling with water. The inward grace
is God washing away our sins and incorporating us into his family.
Who is involved in the service?
In the baptism service, parents promise to bring their child up as a Christian, as part of
the church. This means praying for their child, bringing them to church, and teaching them
the Christian faith by their own example.
Parents also need to choose godparents, Confirmed members of the Church of England
or regular communicant members of another Christian Church. It is their job to lead their
godchild in their journey of faith by personal example, to pray for them and bring them to
church. They are expected to support their godchild in attending Confirmation classes and
help them take this step to mature membership of the church.
The child expresses their belief in Jesus and willingness to follow him. If they are too
young to understand this for themselves, their parents and godparents speak for them;
trusting and praying that when their child is old enough, he or she will make this statement
of faith and commitment themselves at a Confirmation service.
The congregation (including the child’s family and friends) promise to support the child
in their journey of faith.
The minister claims the child for Jesus by marking the child with a sign of the cross on
the forehead and then baptises the child in the name of God the Father, God the Son and
God the Holy Spirit. The minister leads everyone in praying for the child.
What happens before a child is baptised?
Because of the importance of Baptism we expect parents who wish to have a child
baptised to show a commitment to keeping the promises they will make prior to the
baptism service. For example, parents should be bringing their children to church before
making a booking for a baptism date.
During the month before the Baptism, parents bring their child to a church for a
“welcome of those preparing for baptism”. This welcome takes place in a main morning
service and allows the church family to be aware of who is to be baptised and to pray for
We know we want a Baptism but we haven’t been to church for years...
We aren’t quite sure what we believe but we were Christened and we want the same for our
Many parents we meet express these or similar thoughts to us. The birth of a child is
often a prompt to think more deeply about the meaning of life, our beliefs and values. We
love to work with parents to explore these issues. We would suggest that a Thanksgiving
service is a good first step, followed by coming along to church and attending one of our
Alpha courses. Alpha is a 10 week exploration of the Christian faith; each session consisting
of a meal, a DVD talk and a free for all discussion. It’s interactive, relevant and fun. You can
find our more at
For more information about baptism see: