What are Godparents?
The Godparents are generally composed of both a female and male member, not necessarily from the same couple. However only one Godparent is actually necessary. One of the Godparents often needs to be a practicing member of the faith into which the child is being baptized and they must be sufficiently well-connected to the family of the child to be able to exercise the responsibilities they undertake in the service. When an infant is baptized he/she can't answer the questions for him/herself, so someone needs to answer on his/her behalf.
Godparents may be asked to perform ritual functions during the ceremony, such as holding the child, praying over the child and to make promises for the child's religious growth. After the ceremony, the role of the Godparents is to look after the child's religious path.
Godparents (also called sponsors or proxies) were originally introduced into the baptism service for this reason. In the history of the church godparents also promised to bring the child up in the Christian faith, and took responsibility for this.
At infant baptism, parents may be Godparents to their own children, and the parents of the child are required to make these statements together with the Godparents. The role of Godparent has become that of a "supporting friend" who assists the parents and takes a special interest in the child, but does not stand in for the parents or make up for any lacks in their care. Your chief responsibility is to support your godchild in living a Christian life in fellowship with the Church. You are promising to do all in your power to support him/her in his/her life in Christ." The best way to do this is to help make sure he/she gets to Church regularly. Setting an example by regular Church attendance and by being willing to take your godchild with you to worship is a great witness and a fine way to keep your oath as a Sponsor.
In the case of a Thanksgiving and Blessing service, the Godparents promise support of the parents in bringing up the child as well as support of the child.
Are Godparents also commissioned as guardians? No. The church has no power to appoint guardians. Parents wishing to appoint guardians in the event of their deaths should specify this in their wills.
Christian Responsibilities of a Godparent
1. Pray for your godchild regularly
2. Set an example of Christian living
3. Help him/her to grow in the faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
4. Give every encouragement to follow Christ and fight against evil
Questions to ask yourself before agreeing to be a Godparent
- Are your views on religion, spirituality and morality similar to the child's parents?
If they are, all well and good. If not, this need not be an obstacle: the parents may have chosen you because your views are different. But make sure the parents know your views and are happy with them before you decide to accept. There is a surprising number of fantastic Godparents out there who are non-Christian but still bring up their Godchildren within the spirit of the Christian values.
- Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?
Being a Godparent involves developing a relationship with the child and helping the parents in his/her spiritual upbringing. There are many different ways of carrying out your duties as Godparent, but one of the most important things to do is to build a relationship with your Godchild. Make time to see your godchild as regularly as you can. Try to give him or her one-to-one attention: find out what makes them tick, what makes them happy or sad. Spending time with your godchild can be very rewarding (for you both).
- Do you have an interest in the child's well-being?
If you really cannot tolerate children maybe you should say so now rather than agreeing and then disappointing later. But bear in mind that many Godparents find they only really begin to establish a relationship with their Godchild when he/she reaches teenage or beyond.