Thinking Anglicans

Baptism Service

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday morning The update includes a link to the experimental texts.

The Mail on Sunday published this article by Jonathan Petre today: Welby casts out ‘sin’ from christenings: Centuries-old rite rewritten in ‘language of EastEnders’ for modern congregation. The online version is dated yesterday, but was updated early today.

The Mail on Sunday also carries this editorial: Embarrassed Church’s sin of omission.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Church of England removes devil from christening service.

The Guardian carries this story from the Press Association: Church of England accused of dumbing down baptism service.

The Church of England issued this statement last night.

Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
04 January 2014

A Church of England spokesman said:
“The report in the Mail on Sunday (Jan 5) is misleading in a number of respects. The story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. This is the third revision in 30 years.

The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.

The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.

At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK comments: Sin + sound bites = Sales?

Update

Miranda Prynne in The Telegraph Church of England accused of ‘dumbing down’ christening service

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s new baptism service condemned by former bishop

A booklet containing the full experimental additional texts for use in Holy Baptism is available for download: Christian Initiation: Additional Texts in Accessible Language. The booklet also contains guidance on their use, and a comparison with the current Common Worhsip texts. Clergy of the Church of England are reminded that under the provisions of Canon B 5A (Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods) these experimental texts may only be used in parishes authorized for this purpose by the archbishops.
[h/t Jeremy Fletcher]

Pete Broadbent doesn’t like the proposals: The experimental baptism rite – baptism lite.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is baptism being watered down?

Emily Gosden writes in The Telegraph: Sin? People think it’s about sex and cream cakes, says Archdeacon in baptism service row.

Christina Odone comments in The Telegraph: Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity.

The Church Times report of the 2011 General Synod debate is available: More ‘accessible’ baptism prayers on the cards.

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Mark BennetJohn RochColumba GillissConfused SussexAllan Ronald Recent comment authors
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Tim Moore
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Tim Moore

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali complains in the Mail on Sunday that the wording of the proposed new baptism service isn’t Daily Mail enough…

Tim S
Guest
Tim S

I am a parish priest. I am committed to mission and evangelism. I have the honour of presiding at over 100 baptisms each year. Our retention rate is not great, but that is not the purpose of the sacrament. I agree that the existing service needs some work on it. For too long we have seen baptism as an event rather than part of the process of initiation. Therefore, anything which helps this helps me. I have spent too much time trying to amend what we are doing, but the news items miss the point of the growing need for… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

I’m a parish priest too, and since we are allowed to use the old ASB promises (“if there is a strong pastoral reason…”) that is what I have always done. I turn to Christ I repent of my sins I renounce evil. I explain that they are all about the way we are facing, our priorities, what we turn towards and what we therefore have to turn away from, what we put before us and what we put behind us, and that seems to make sense to the families I deal with . The ASB promises seem strong, open, understandable… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Odd that the CofE can bestir itself over a weekend to counter a weak Daily Mail story, but still hasn’t commented on Anglican bishops calling for the imprisonment of gays, wouldn’t you say? Anyone might think that Welby cares more for PR about non-stories than about the oppression and abuse of his fellow man.

Alastair Newman
Guest

I think a point which has probably caused confusion in the current liturgy is whether the repentance for sins was the child’s sins or the godparent’s sins. And also how exactly rejecting “the world” was a helpful thing to do…

JCF
Guest
JCF

Must be a slow news day.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Mine is one of the trial parishes and we had a baptism in today’s main eucharist. Interesting to experience rather than simply to read. The simplicity of the new Prayer over the Water and of the words of the Presentation are dramatic and direct when enacted. People seemed to hear their own promises (including the congregational promise) *as* promises rather than as a significant but meaningless utterances (often it feels as if they’d be as happy saying ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’.) I didn’t feel as if the weight of typology was toppling the rite because there was room just to show water,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re the “old service”, seems like a lot of questions for your average Ethiopian eunuch. But, I guess we have to keep the dreary Augustinians and Calvinists happy. I know what you’re thinking, are there two predestinations, or only one. Well in all the excitement, I kinda lost track myself.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Is it now time for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to become a “Fresh Expression”?

Lorenzo
Guest

How is it that Bp Nazir-Ali, now a bishop in the schismatic diocese of South Carolina, is still described as CofE? Does he still draw a pension from us heretics?

Lorenzo
Guest

And as far as I know, the Prayer Book that he is now pledged to use is the Episcopalian one, which is happy to confirm people with this pledge: ‘Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil?’ No mention of Satan there or submitting to Christ, only to ‘renew one’s commitment to Jesus Christ.’ And these promises of submission are not part of the rite in the Prayer Book either, only ‘in the name of this child to renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world with all covetous desires of the same and… Read more »

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

It is now twelve years since the CofE (quite rightly in my judgment) preferred Rowan Williams to Michael Nazir Ali for Canterbury. Why is it that every time the latter opens his mouth all I hear is “I don’t like you any more. You didn’t give me Canterbury”? After reading this clutch of instant opinions, I say “Savi Hensman for Canterbury”. She writes more sense than the rest put togther.

rjb
Guest
rjb

The Bishop of Willesden’s comments are unfortunate. How can there be such a thing as “baptism lite”? Baptism is baptism! It’s not something that is done by a priest of a bishop or even by the General Synod of the Church of England, but by the Holy Spirit. The precise words spoken (apart from the Trinitarian formula) are relatively insignificant. Does Pete Broadbent fear that some proselytes will receive a second-rate sacrament? I’m afraid what we see here is a characteristically Anglican determination to substitute liturgy for theology. The logic is that we can all come together to do the… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest

Talking of the devil. Am I the only one to be sick to the back teeth of these retired prelates and other constant restorationist whiners. It is not my generation that lost society to Christ. I grew up going to church on my own, feeling rather odd. Why on earth would a return to their kind of old time religion solve anything as their generation (and this at a time when everyone still went to church in their droves) was such a shining example of true adherence to the Gospel that no one, not even their kids, felt enticed by… Read more »

Fr Paul
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Fr Paul

I like Rod Gillis’ comment about the Ethiopian eunuch. even with the NRSV omitted vs 37 of Acts 8 (And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’) it would seem the current liturgy has at least 5 questions too many!

Peter Denis
Guest
Peter Denis

This reminds me of the baptism of our eldest son in 1967, when the priest asked my grandfather to stand in for an absent godparent. My grandfather said that he could only stand in if he didn’t have to renounce the devil. The priest reassured him and our son was baptized. But that was in Canada. The priest later served as Secretary of the National church!

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

When I was a C of E vicar, I always admired the courage of an non-churched couple for ringing me up in the first place to ask to have their baby baptised. Some of my colleagues seemed to want to put as many obstacles in their way as possible, regular church attendance, a six week baptism night school, and still allow themselves the luxury of scoffing and sneering at parents indulging in ‘folk religion’ by wanting some form of ‘protection’ for their infant child. The ASB baptism service wasn’t great, but the CW version was a poorly written embarrassment, with… Read more »

Revd Laurie Roberts
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Revd Laurie Roberts

The various Baptism services are ‘heavy’ with layers of symbolism which most of the public including church-goers, do not ‘get’. Btw the public always call this Christening – see the chasm personified ! Christening is a more obviously christian term, too. The bad news though, is that for many of us who do ‘get’ the allusions and understand the symbolism and its provenance,it speaks of by-gone ages and embarrassingly out-of-date imagery and concepts. I came to do a running commentary in which I explained (away) some aspects, while high-lighting certain archetypal dimensions Newness, water, light, oil, blessing, continuity, Love. I… Read more »

John
Guest
John

The fuss as usual seems largely synthetic and in some cases ill-intentioned. This is only as yet a trial and will only ever be an option. Many families who have their child baptised clearly haven’t the foggiest what is going on – even if the priest does his best to explain. Any attempt to make it easier and less alien for them is to be welcomed. Many Christians no longer believe in the Devil. The belief is not creedal. Of course, the fact that Jesus did believe in the Devil poses a problem – but it’s ignorable or negotiable. And… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

In the comparison between the two services, one service requires the rejection of “devil,” sin,” and “evil” and the other service requires the rejection of “evil.”

OK, the services use different words. But is the meaning substantively different so as to require all this drama?

DAvis d'Ambly
Guest
DAvis d'Ambly

It seems to me the One who said “I saw Satan fall like lightning from the sky” is the One in whose Name we are baptized. What do we have to fear by following His lead?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

During the early charismatic period of idealism, a great deal was made of the power of the devil, so that would-be Christians seemed to be consumed with the constant need to defend themselves against ‘Satan’ at all times. This often led to a flurry of intentional ‘exorcisms’ – often by fired-up evangelists – that mostly ended, not in ‘deliverance’, but an ongoing confusion in the minds of its sometimes unwilling subjects. I will always remember a wise priest telling us that the Devil rejoices in any acknowledgement of his power to confuse would-be Christians, and that we should be very… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Whenever there is a baptism ceremony question to the godparents or the baptism candidate about rejecting the Devil, I often think of Hollywood movies, like “The Exorcist”. Cue “Carmina Burana”. I suppose I’m committing heresy, in some minds, but “WE” are the devil. We humans have been given absolute free will by God, we know the difference between right and wrong, or good and evil, and we willingly choose the “dark path”. Myself included (mea culpa). Creation of a “Devil” seems a marvelous way of foisting our dark side onto some “Other”. “The Devil Made Me Do It”, as Flip… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I believe the Episcopal Church’s baptism service includes: Question Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God? Answer I renounce them. Question Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? Answer I renounce them. Question Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God? Answer I renounce them. It is not only ‘restorationist whiners’ who are concerned about baptism being counter-cultural. William Stringfellow, Episcopalian theologian and radical lawyer, for instance, believed that baptism was crucially important. In 1963 he… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Savi, for citing the actual text of the Episcopal 1979 Baptismal liturgy. I will be using it this Sunday to welcome two children into the Body of Christ. I’m fortunate in having a properly oriented church (thanks to an English architect of the Cambridge Camden and Ecclesiological Societies!) so I’m able to have the baptismal party turn due west to reject Satan and the evil powers, and be anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, and then turn east to face the altar (and the rising sun brightening the Evangelist windows) to make the triple Adhesion. It is always… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest

I was talking about their confirmation service, Savi, and said nothing about being countercultural. When people have to reaffirm the promises made on their behalf, nothing is said of the devil at all. And my beef was with a kind of religion which has already failed and lost society, why try to restore it.

Lorenzo
Guest

And awfully sorry, but I dissent. Our current CW baptism rite is a series of 19 questions and answers, some sort of evangelical ‘salvation by faith’ promise. Never mind Stringfellow’s insights, i’ve never read the man, but all the truly Traditional elements: chrismation, ephphata, destruction of the old Adam, incorporation into the communion of saints, new birth, indwelling of the Spirit… have been reduced to optional extras or passing mentions in ambiguous prayers… but the medieval accretions are there alright, as is the devil, identified with the anti-christ, quite literally, he who stands against the Saviour and whom we have… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest

The Book of Common Prayer was a lot more catholic in expression. Look at the promises in common worship. The first begins: ‘Faith is the gift of God to his people… people of God, will you welcome…’ then ‘parents and godparents… today we are trusting God for their growth in faith’, then ‘in baptism these children begin their journey in faith, you speak for them today…’ and again after the turning to Christ, obviously done in faith, the signing says: ‘do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified’, even in the prayer over the water we asks… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

There’s a good blog post about this by Miranda Threfall Holmes whose parish is one of the designated experimental parishes.

http://mirandathrelfallholmes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/accessible-baptism.html?spref=fb

cryptogram
Guest
cryptogram

What an interesting and wide ranging thread this is turning out to be. Thanks to Savi again for a useful contribution and to Erica for the link she provides. In days long ago, I worked in a parish where there was a baptismal preparation policy which worked: an astonishing number of young families stuck with us. Key points were: it was lay led. Our experience was that a dog-collar opens a gulf – people don’t expect to understand what a cleric says, so they don’t even try. It was in the home, and it ideally involved sponsors as well as… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

“There is a terrible tendency to baptise with words rather than with water.” That says it all! When I first saw the CW Baptismal rite I thought “What have we done to have that visited upon us?” I set to reading a re-reading the rubrics and reduced the rite to the absolute minimum as here http://www.oremus.org/labarum/cards/BriefBaptismMinisterPDF.pdf After seeing my bishop cut even more I edited http://www.oremus.org/labarum/longbooks/longbookbaptism/baptismlbbrief.pdf The more prattle removed, the more power the rites and ceremonies gain. I would go back to the ASB rite tomorrow. How about having Synod authorise the Series II and ASB Baptism rites on… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

What splendid good sense comes from the pen of Labarum, I wholeheartedly concur with his conclusion. Way back in 1928 when Prayer Book Revision was the hot topic of the day that great Dean: J Armitage Robinson firmly believed that the 1662 BCP “should be left unchanged and simply augmented by an appendix containing additional material……to meet different situations and needs.” ( pg 124 The Deans – Trevor Beeson)

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

I’ve found that what communicates to people most are the symbols of Baptism – oils (baptism and Chrism), water, a white shawl to wrap the newly baptised in, a shell to scoop the water, the Paschal candle and a candle to take away. I give a minimal amount of explanation as I go along – people like to know that the shawl is a reminder that we are wrapped in the love of God, that oil of Chrism is used at coronations and ordinations to show we have a job to do and that the good we do should spread… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest

I do the same, Anne, but the sad truth remain that no matter how much you clothe the whole rite in symbolism and playfulness, the compulsory prayers remain very, very wordy, constantly interrogating the parents and candidates and systematically focusing on the future faith of the one being baptised, not on the mystery taking place there and then or on the gift of God’s Spirit enabling the faith of those who come to baptism.

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

I have no contacts and no influence in General Synod, but I would be delighted if someone would raise the case to authorise the ASB Rite and maybe even the Series I rite for those very few who might want a service in traditional English, but not the BCP rite.

Is this, or could it be, a very simple procedural action? There cannot be any substantial doctrinal issues.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

“…..simply augmented by an appendix containing additional material” But, I thought the Prayer Book of 1662 remained normative in the English Church and the liturgy published since was just that “…additional material.” Not so here in Wales where the 1662 version now has a dubious legality and seems to have been replaced. On the more general topic the liturgy of baptism I was brought up with is most famous as the backdrop for the assassination of the four Dons and Mo Greene at the end of The Godfather. Mostly completely unintelligible to those attending it is memorable for the exorcism… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Quite correct Martin but the 1928 prayer book was going to replace the 1662 BCP, hence all the fuss and bother. The Cof E had learnt its lesson come 1980 and thus the ASB was indeed an alternative liturgy to the 1662 BCP. Alas as far as liturgies go it didn’t last very long – after 14 long years of experimentation (1966 to 1980) the ASB only reigned for a mere 20 years being being ditched in the year 2000. Now with the wordy Common Worship service of Holy Baptism we are being offered alternatives to the alternative.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

I also think this is sensible and thought-provoking thread. In my last (working class, Australian) parish over 22 years, for the baptism of children, we used the Series II questions including – do you renounce evil? in a service incorporated in a shortened, simple 1662 Matins held separately when Baptism was requested (and it was requested frequently and never refused). That service was held at 11 am,an hour helpful for family members and friends coming any considerable distance. We did have an occasional Baptism in the earlier, main service (BCP HC or – most popular, MP and shortened HC, when… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

” maybe even the Series I rite for those very few who might want a service in traditional English, but not the BCP rite.”

Labarum,

The BCP remains authorised in its entirety, indeed remains the official standard of doctrine and worship for the Church of England.

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

“The BCP remains authorised in its entirety, indeed remains the official standard of doctrine and worship for the Church of England.”

I did not doubt it for a minute. My plea for (along with the ASB rite) was for the Series II rite for those who wanted a trad. English rite, but not the BCP rite. This compares to the continued authorisation of the Series I Marriage and Funeral Services.

Father David
Guest
Father David

If we can pick and mix the worship to fit our own personal liturgical tastes and preferences then why can’t we do the same with bishops and select those that fit in with our own theological outlook? By being allowed to select the style of worship that suits but not the style of leadership we prefer aren’t we in danger of saying the ministry is more important than worship? The authorities seem to want to ring fence the episcopate and at the same time appear to be more casual when it comes to the offering of worship to Almighty God.

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Does anyone know whether Series II is available online?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Yes, someone does.

I have a copy on TA’s sister site at http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/series2/

Father David
Guest
Father David

Similarly does anyone have a link for “Alternative Services, First Series Matrimony with hymns”? Having given away so many copies to various brides and grooms over the years I only have a single copy left. I always offer a genuine choice of service – Traditional or Contemporary – to those seeking Christian marriage and I am pleasantly surprised at how many couples opt for the Traditional wedding rite.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

You should have been able to guess that from my previous answer!

http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/series1/

Father David
Guest
Father David

Thank you, Simon. As ever – most helpful and I am grateful for your kind assistance in this matter.

John
Guest
John

No reason, Father David, as I for one have consistently argued on this site and others.

Allan Ronald
Guest

And who would have thought that the hacks on the Mail and the Telegraph were so keen to abjure the Prince of Darkness? Could it be a consequence of Leveson?

Confused Sussex
Guest
Confused Sussex

As per usual the Daily Mail and Telegraph remain wedded to a pre 20th Century world where people knew their place and the Church of England’s role is to ensure they stay there. Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali and George Carey both seem to find it difficult to allow the Church to reflect and renew in the light of changes in Society – which we may or may not like but cannot ignore.

Columba Gilliss
Guest
Columba Gilliss

The article and, even more, the comments are interesting. But, what about the baptism of an adult? Is the new proposed rite to be used then?
Columba Gilliss