Blessings or Thanksgivings
Church blessings or thanksgivings are an ideal alternative to a christening if you would like your child to be welcomed into the Christian church but don't want the full commitment of baptism. Clergy in some denominations are now happy to perform blessings for babies possibly followed by a baptism when the child is old enough to understand what it means.
A blessing usually takes place as part of a main church service. The child, family and any godparents go to the front of the church and are asked to say a few words, while the church promises to help the family look after the child. Some churches are happy to let parents write parts of the blessing themselves.
In a thanksgiving service, thanks are given for the gift of the child and no blessing or baptism is carried out. Parents are not asked to profess their faith but prayers are given. As with a blessing, godparents are optional.
Naming ceremonies are secular (non-religious) ceremonies. As with weddings, a number of venues nationwide are able to hold a naming ceremony to welcome your new child.
It's entirely up to you as to how you would like the ceremony to be organized but they usually last about 20 minutes. You can lead the ceremony yourself or a trained 'celebrant', who can help you to prepare the ceremony and lead it on the day. During the ceremony, parents state their love and commitment to their child and declare hopes for their future. You can choose to read poetry, with music playing in the background.
Rather than godparents, whose traditional role is to help guide the child in a Christian life, 'supporting adults' or 'mentors' (who may be friends or family) just need to say that they will be there for the child as he or she grows up and throughout their life in whatever way is needed.
The ceremony, which can be conducted by you or a celebrant, may include an introduction and welcome followed by a reading by you or one of the supporting adults. This is followed by the naming of the child and the parents' promise and promises of the supporting adults to pledge love and support for the child's future.
Naming ceremonies are not legally binding and do not have any legal status, although you may be presented with a record of the ceremony as a token of the day.
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