Baptism and Confirmation

John Bunyan (1628-88) author of the allegorical ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ illustrates the Christian life as a journey, through which Pilgrim seeks the right path, and in the process discovers greater depths of Christian truth. Many Christians also see life in this way -as a pilgrimage- and believe that God guides and supports them on this journey, just as a parent looks after and cares for a growing child.

Christians mark times of transition within this journey with various celebrations or ceremonies of passing. The birth of a baby for instance is a time of great promise and thanks are given for the start of a new life. Some Christians mark this with Infant Baptism or christening, which brings the new baby into membership of the church and so starts that child on the path of faith. God parents (and the parents themselves) will promise to guide the child in the Christian faith. The Baptist Church and some other non-conformist denominations leave baptism until adolescence so that a person may decide for themselves whether to commit to the faith. Such churches may hold a Service of Thanksgiving at the time when the baby is born instead of a baptism.

Where a child has been baptised as a baby, this is usually followed when they are a young teenager by a service known as Confirmation. This is usually led by the bishop, and often held in a cathedral. Here, the child confirms the promises made for them as a child by their parents and God-parents, and the bishop asks God to send the Holy Spirit to guide them in their developing faith. At this point they are invited to participate fully in the Eucharist, and from here-on they take full responsibility for their own Christian life and service.

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