Frequently asked questions

It is possible to have godparents ‘by proxy’?

Godparents are really important people at a christening. A person can only be an official godparent if they are physically present at the service, since they will make some big promises for and on behalf of the child on the day. As they are already making promises on behalf of the child, to have another person making promises on their behalf confuses who is making promises on behalf of who! So there is actually no provision in the Church of England for ‘godparents by proxy’.

However, if a special person who you wanted to be a godparent is unable to make it to a christening, there is no reason why they can’t be asked to take on a godparent-like role unofficially, and that kind of relationship can be encouraged throughout the child’s life, but they wouldn’t be entered into the Baptism Register after the christening. If the church has the facilities, they could perhaps be linked via Skype or similar software, so they can still see the service.

Is there a minimum age for godparents?

There is actually no minimum age for godparents, but the chosen person must be mature enough to understand the lifelong commitment and responsibility they are taking on. It’s a demanding role, but some quite young people do feel ready for this. The vicar taking your service can help you decide. So if you’re thinking of asking a person who is under 16 to be a godparent, first talk to the vicar who will be taking the service. You will be able to talk together about whether this is the right decision, both for your child and for the young godparent.

Do godparents have to be confirmed?

Godparents have a really special role in supporting a child in their Christian faith. The preparation and promises made at a confirmation demonstrate a commitment to living a Christian life, a model for a child just beginning their own amazing journey of faith. For this reason, it is preferable that godparents are confirmed, but if three confirmed godparents simply can’t be found, the church’s own law allows for these circumstances. The best thing to do is speak to the vicar who will be doing the baptism for further advice.

Do godparents have to be baptized in the Church of England?

They can be, but they don’t have to be. People who have been baptized in the Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed Church and other Christian denominations, can also be godparents at a Church of England christening.

Do godparents have to be baptized?

Yes, this is a basic requirement for a godparent because of the very special role they have in supporting a child’s faith journey.

Can parents be godparents?

Yes, so long as they are baptized. One or both parents can be a godparent to their child. If both parents are godparents, then just one additional godparent will be required for the service to make up the minimum of three.

Do I have to have three godparents?

Yes, three is the minimum, unless it’s simply not possible to find three. There should be at least two godparents who are the same sex as the child and one who is the opposite sex. The Church of England laws about this will have been agreed long ago with the best interests of a child at heart. But the laws also allow for the different circumstances of families, so if three really cannot be found, then two will suffice.

Can we change our godparents after a christening?

There is no official way to change godparents once a christening has taken place. They make big promises at a specific service, and their names will be recorded in the baptism register. Because of the lifelong commitment of parents and godparents at a christening, there can be no ‘re-christening’ once it has taken place. However if a family finds themselves without the support of their chosen godparents, for whatever reason, they are free to ask others in their life to take on a similar role unofficially. It may also be helpful to talk to the local vicar for further advice.

What if one or both parents aren’t christened?

You can have your child baptized at a christening regardless of whether or not you, the parents, are baptized. It is only the godparents who are required to be baptized, (so the only time a parent would have to be baptized is if they were also acting as a godparent).

What is the role of a godparent?

Godparents are some of the most important people at a christening. Their main roles are:-

o   To be there for the child to talk to about the bigger questions of life.

o   Praying for the child through the ups and downs of their faith journey

o   Showing them how to make good choices in life, for themselves and for others

o   Helping them to learn more about the Christian faith, through their church and in other ways.

How can I be involved in a christening?

Just being present at the service shows that you support the child and their family in the choice they have made. As part of the service, everyone will be asked to promise to continue supporting the child on their journey of faith. A wonderful way to do this is to keep praying for the child and their family. Visit our prayer pages to see the kinds of prayers you can use before and after the day.

What should I give as a present?

What happens in the service?

You can follow the service step by step just here.

What should I give as a present?

The most important gifts you can give your godchild are your time, presence and prayers, but you will probably also want to mark the christening by giving a special gift. Visit our page all about gifts for some simple suggestions.

What happens in the service?

You can follow the service step by step just here.

I’m worried about doing the right thing on the day.

The vicar will make sure the service goes smoothly and that everyone knows what to do and when. Why not ask if there’s a rehearsal or any other preparation you could get involved in?

What if I’ve not thought much about my faith and don’t go to church regularly?

Being asked to be a godparent is a good opportunity to think about your own faith. Because of your special role, you do have to be christened yourself. If you feel you can make those big promises in church on behalf of your godchild, you’re ready. Take a look at the service to see those promises.

Does being a godparent mean I become a legal guardian as well?

No. Godparents are not the people who will care for the child should anything happen to the parents. Arrangements for this would normally be made by a Will.

How do I arrange a christening?

Start by contacting the vicar of your local church and asking them for advice.

Finding your parish church is simple, click here to find out more.

Can we arrange a christening at a separate time to the Sunday service?

There may be opportunities to have a service at a different time, again usually on a Sunday, but talk to the vicar and ask their advice about what is possible at your church.

Where can we hold the christening?

You can have your baby christened at your local parish church. If you’d like to have the christening at a different church, for example, where you grew up or where you were married, talk to the vicar at that church to see what’s possible.

How much does a christening service cost?

The good news is that a christening service is free. There may be costs for your family party afterwards, for gifts, or for christening robes, but the church service is free.

How many godparents should I have?

You can have as many as you wish, but every child should have at least three, two of the same sex and at least one of the opposite sex to the child. Parents may be godparents for their own children, providing they have at least one other godparent.

What happens in the service?

You can follow the service step by step just here.

How old should my child be?

You can have your baby or child christened at any age. There is no upper age limit, but there will come a time when your child will be able to make the promises for themselves. Talk to your vicar about baptizing an older child and how this might differ from a baby’s christening service.

Can anyone have a christening service?

Yes, so long as they have not been baptized already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for christenings – whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married or have been a regular churchgoer – as  a parent, you do not even have to have been baptized yourself – though you could be.  Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is something you are considering for your child.

Why is a christening an ‘amazing journey’?

A christening marks the start of a lifetime of discovery about the Christian faith and how life-changing that can be. It’s a journey of surprises, challenges and adventure. And through it all, God is always with us.

What is the difference between a baptism and a christening?

There is no difference between a christening service and a baptism service. Some churches will use the word ‘baptism’ and some the word ‘christening’. Babies are baptized during a christening service just as couples are ‘married’ during a ‘wedding’ service.