Thinking Anglicans

CofE practical advice on Baptisms

Copied from the official page timestamped 14.45 pm 19 March, check the official page for later changes. Plain text version:

PRACTICAL GUIDANCE FOR BAPTISMS

In this exceptional time, the Government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation will have a major impact on all aspects of everyday life, including the way baptisms can be conducted for the immediate future. Baptisms can continue in the Church of England but inevitably there will be some adaptations to protect everyone.

This means baptisms can go ahead, but they may be different from what might normally be expected.

BEFORE THE BAPTISM

It is advised that meetings between candidates or parents/guardians/carers and clergy are held by telephone, Skype etc. rather than face-to-face. If meetings can only be held in person, social distancing guidance will be followed.

Numbers of those attending the baptism must be kept to a minimum – the candidate, their parents/guardians/carers, godparents and the minister and no others.

This should also be communicated to anyone in the wider circle of friends, family or colleagues in advance who may wish to attend. Sadly, those over the age of 70 and those with an underlying health condition are strongly discouraged from attending any in the present circumstances.

If candidates or parents/guardians/carers wish to postpone the baptism in light of the restrictions in numbers, this is something that will be supported, and help given to find a suitable date in the future.

All baptisms will be “stand alone” events rather than part of a Sunday service as there is no longer public worship [defined as Church services which the public are invited to attend and take part in]. No additional church personnel will attend the service, for example organists, vergers or sound system operator etc.

PLANNING THE BAPTISM

Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend given the restrictions on numbering, churches will be happy to explore ways to allow others to join the service, either through platforms such as Skype, or recording the service to send at a later date to anyone unable to attend.

Where no audio link can be achieved, an order of service could be sent either by email or post.

Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. Please follow the directions of the priest if you are attending a service.

While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, all present should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.

Where infants are being baptised, a parent/guardian/carer will be asked to hold the infant for the duration of the service, including for the baptism.

Communal bibles and other items will not be used to minimise transmission risk and baptismal candles, if used, should be handled by one person only. A parent or Godparent will be asked to light and hold the candle on behalf of the candidate and to remove it safely immediately after the service.

The application of oil and signing of the cross will be done using an implement which avoids the need for direct physical contact.

While a parent/guardian/carer holds the infant, the officiating member of clergy will use an implement such as a shell to pour the water. A parent/guardian/carer will be asked to wipe the forehead of the baptised person with paper towels which can then be thrown away.

Unfortunately, baptism by immersion is not possible during the current restrictions.

AFTER THE BAPTISM

In keeping with the recommendations to limit social gatherings, there should not be a celebration or other gathering after the baptism, and this should be arranged at a future date once Government advice permits.

We will do our best to explain any changes or delays which may be an inevitable consequence of the current restrictions, but we are here to support you and to ensure baptism can go ahead or be rearranged to a suitable date in the future.

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Shamus
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Shamus

My bishop has said baptisms should be postponed except in extremis, with which I agree. Now we have this issued saying baptisms may take place. Having already contacted a number of parents who had bookings, I don’t find this helpful. I think fortunately they would anyway have postponed, but that is just luck.

Kate
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Kate

But if you feel that baptism in church is presently unsafe shouldn’t you be encouraging lay baptism at home as an alternative? It is permitted but a lot of lay parents don’t know. One might feel that it is something the archbishops should have suggested. Moreover, while the experience in other countries is of low mortality in under 19s we a) don’t really know how well infant mortality has been recorded and b) there seem to be at least some indications that there might be different strains of the virus and if it mutates (which becomes statistically more likely the… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
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Jonathan Jamal

I wonder if people have forgotten that any Lay person can baptize when necessity demands it and it is not possible to have the services of an ordained Priest or Deacon to do this. May be under these circumstances a Member of the family could Baptize a child in a family home, with family members present. The Only requirement is to intend what the Church intends when she baptizes and to use the Trinitarian formula, even a Prime Minister cannot stop these kinds of Baptisms! After the crisis is passed, families that have availed themselves of what is allowed in… Read more »