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Getting Ready for Baptism course book

A practical course preparing children for baptism

Richard Burge, Penny Fuller, Mary Hawes

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Content

Baptism is a very special moment in the Christian journey. It is a moment of awe and wonder, and of recognition that we are accepted by God and special in his sight.

Getting Ready for Baptism recognises that baptism can take place at any age and stage of life. Its aim is to deepen understanding of the biblical background to baptism for all involved and to explore what it means to be a child of God. With the emphasis on facilitating rather than a teacher-led approach, the material seeks to encourage all those involved in the sacrament, whether they are the candidate, the parent, godparent, friend, extended family member or member of the church community.

Part 1 focuses on baptism as a ministry. It explores the relationship between the candidate, parents and godparents, examines the place of discipleship for those taking part, considers the implications of baptism for the whole worshipping community, and places the emphasis on baptism being a step to belonging as well as a statement of belief. Part 2 offers three practical sessions: Come to the party!, Enjoy the party! and Party on! A task-based activity book is available separately to help the child make a personal record of his or her baptism journey.

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Author info

Richard Burge was born in Hull and was baptised when a baby. He has been a Diocesan Children's Adviser for over ten years and a priest in nine churches in York and Wakefield Dioceses since his ordination. He has taken over 300 baptisms and has only had eight babies cry so far! Penny Fuller is Children's Development Officer in the Methodist Church's Children and Youth Team. She has thirty years' practical experience in ministry with children and young people in her local church and is the moderator of The Consultative Group of Ministry among Children, a national ecumenical children's ministry group.

Reviews

From CPAS DiscipleKit Summer 2015

Great range of discussion and group activities. Deeply interactive...Interactive base for the sessions, with facilitation encouraged as delivery style. An extraordinarily creative resource...

This gentle resource is designed to be as broad as possible, but it needs commitment and time to dig out the bits that you want. Having said that, the ideas for the sessions include some very good creative ideas that extensively explore the baptism theme, in an extraordinary variety of ways. However, it would probably not suit a believer's-baptism-only situation, nor someone in a hurry.

Lots of hands-on interaction to help all ages think about baptism, about the words of commitment, and work out how being a Christian be expressed in their lives (eg how to pray).

All the activities and topics are linked in well with exploring faith and one's vision of God, from a beginner's point of view.

All potential group members catered for, from children to adult candidates to godparents, and how baptism may impact them now and into the future. Honesty about one's own experiences of life are encouraged.

Full review on DiscipleKit.org


From the Church Times

There is a kind of liturgical fundamentalism that can afflict Christians of all shades and opinions. It falls over itself to do what's "in the book", and never more so when it comes to rites of Christian initiation.

This is particularly ironic in the context of the Church of England, given the apparent latitude that now obtains in Common Worship. The baptism rite has not worn well, being seen by some right from the start as far too wordy and didactic, and too easily predicated on things that cannot be taken for granted any more. I well remember baptising a baby with a packed church of the unchurched (extended families can be very large in the East End), and being required to ask the parents and godparents if they subscribed to various strands of Pauline thought that I do not understand. All very correct, but not very pastoral.

That makes these books all the more welcome. They are an ecumenical enterprise, and assume that the candidate is either a baby or a young child; consequently, much of the material is to do with parents and godparents as well as candidates. The activity book is intended for children, and provides a clear and attractive introduction to the rite and its meaning. There is plenty of space for the candidates to write down questions or thoughts, which might be shared with others later.

The course book has many strengths. It does not assume that the person leading any preparation is a minister, or formally qualified. It makes no assumptions about a particular "policy" of baptism. And it does not spoon-feed the reader with "how to do it". Instead, the authors recognise that baptism can take place at any stage of life, and that it involves a variety of people, not just an individual and his or her immediate family.

The main body of the book uses the image of baptism as a party: stage one is about being invited to the party; stage two is about enjoying it; stage three carries on the celebrations. This allows the authors to lay out a series of "courses" for the candidates and others, which, taken together, give a rounded picture of what baptism is about. There are practical suggestions about how long a session might take and what resources might be needed, but these are always to be qualified by context: one can give to people only what they are disposed to receive. There is no one "right" method.

Pastoral good sense comes at the reader again and again from these books. Congratulations again to the BRF for producing material in an attractive and durable layout.

Review by The Revd Peter McGeary

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857460196
  • Published: 21 March 2014
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 112