Civil Baby Naming Ceremony or Church Christening – do you need to choose?


Naming Ceremonies and Christenings are not mutually exclusive ceremonies. Rather they complement each other. Both are very joyful ceremonies that formally recognise the special responsibilities of parents to their child; and provide the opportunity for others to pledge commitment to the child. At both the child’s names are formally announced. A Christian baptism symbolises the moment the child becomes a member of the body of Christ, part of a particular denomination, and parents and godparents pledge themselves to bring up the child in a godly and upright way.

A naming ceremony focuses on parenting, on a declaration of commitment or intent towards the child, and on welcoming the child into his family and his community. Unlike a christening, a civil naming ceremony gives you the opportunity to appoint older sponsors in various roles (not just as godparents) to ask family and friends for their support as you raise your child, and to formally show your appreciation to your parents for their parenting of you. The opportunity is also provided to explain the significance of the names chosen for the child.

While most parents choose one or the other, there is a growing trend for church-going families to have both to mark the birth and naming of their child by having a civil naming ceremony, either before or after the church christening, perhaps as part of the party that follows the christening.

Baby naming ceremonies can be held at home, or in parks or other child-friendly venues.

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