Baptism ‘Super Saturdays’ in Bicester

At St Edburg’s Church, Bicester, local families have been joining all age baptism preparation sessions on Saturday mornings led by the newly formed Baptism Preparation Team.

During the COVID pandemic, many baptisms had to be postponed due to lockdown restrictions, which led to a long waiting list at many churches. This included St Edburg’s, which holds a significant number of baptisms – more than 50 each year.

The church decided that they needed to find a new way to best serve a large number of children and parents waiting for baptism. So, a Baptism Preparation Team of ten people of all ages from the church was formed to support families and run preparation classes.

Andrew Anderson-Gear, who leads the Baptism Preparation Team at St Edburg’s, reflects on the purpose of the sessions:

“The core of what we are seeking to do is build relationships with families in our community, to help them connect with God’s story but also answer their questions.

“It is great that families can join these sessions together and have the opportunity to build new relationships with one another as well as with us at the church.

“Baptism celebrates the start of a journey of faith, and we want parents and children to feel supported by the church and to know that they are part of our family.”

Each member of the Baptism Preparation Team is also a ‘baptism accompanier’ for a family. Their role is to be a point of contact for the family, to answer their questions and support them through the process, including at the baptism service. This is part of the relationship building process with the aim of an individual contact getting to know the family personally and maintaining contact after the baptism.

The preparation sessions are held on a monthly basis with the first session taking place in July this year. Families receive practical information, ask questions, and discuss the significance of baptism. At the moment, families are invited to join Messy Church, but the team is exploring starting a mid-week toddler group as well as inviting families to other church events throughout the year.

Andrew shared about the success of the sessions:

“It is really exciting to see God clearly at work in our community with so many parents choosing to have their child baptised. At our October preparation session, of seven families who participated, three asked about our toddler group, one about Messy Church and another couple are now looking to get married next year in St Edburg’s!

“We have three ‘Super Saturdays’ this autumn holding six baptisms in one day! One of these has already been in September, with two more to come in October and November. The sessions are also now being offered to support the rural churches in the Bicester Team.”

Baptism and thanksgiving services mark the birth of a child and beginning of a faith journey as parents commit to supporting and raising their child to learn about and live the Christian faith. Churches across the diocese offer baptism and thanksgiving services. Find your local parish church by visiting A Church Near You.