Having a baptism at St Mary’s, Balham

We, at St Mary’s, are always delighted to welcome new members into the Christian family.

What is Baptism?

Baptism (which is another name for Christening) is the ceremony by which a person becomes a member of the worldwide Christian Church.  Becoming a Christian means a new start in life, as if a person dies to their old way of life and is reborn to a new way of life. Baptism is also a symbolic washing away of the power of sin, through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Other symbols used in the baptism service are the sign of the cross and the giving of a candle.

Why Baptise Children?

Christian parents naturally want their children to be brought up as fellow members of the Church. Because children are too young to make this commitment themselves, parents and godparents make the promises on the child’s behalf as well as their own. Then when the child is old enough, he/she can make these promises for themselves at confirmation.

What About Thanking God for the New Child?

This is a very good thing to do but baptism is about more than giving thanks. However, if parents wish to bring their new baby to Church to give thanks and ask for God’s blessing, but are less happy about their child becoming a member of the Church through baptism, then there is a Service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child which we are happy to arrange.  This still leaves the child free to be baptised at a later stage if you or the child wish to take this further step.


If you decide to have your child baptised you will want to think carefully about godparents.  It is usual, but not obligatory to have three godparents, two male and one female for a boy and two female and one male for a girl.  Ideally they should be confirmed and practising members of the Church.  Certainly they must themselves be baptised and able to make the promises sincerely.  Godparents of other denominations are welcome.

When and How?

Baptism or the Service of Thanksgiving takes place during the main Parish Eucharist on Sunday at 10.30am although other times may be arranged with the priest taking the service, in exceptional circumstances. If you are not a regular attender at St. Mary’s but wish to have your child baptised here this may still be possible. Please speak to one of the clergy.

Can Adults be Baptised?

If you have not been baptised as a child and you would like to, you may wish to speak to a member of the clergy. Adults, like children, are welcome in the Christian family. When an adult wishes to be baptised this is usually linked with confirmation.

What Next?

If you wish for your child to be baptised please contact the parish office for a form or contact one of the clergy.