14 Jun 2015

A Christening With Hurdles

I’m currently in the process of organising Alex’s christening. I’m not overly religious, and John even less than me, but I do believe in God - or some higher spiritual being - and it’s important to me that my kids have been christened, even if they later chose not to be religious at all. It will be totally up to them, and I’m not enforcing anything on them, but I do want them to have God’s blessing, a foundation, so to speak. And besides, it’s a nice celebration of the birth of a child, whether you’re religious or not.

I have been baptised Catholic, and went to a Catholic school, but for a long time now I have disagreed with and criticised a lot about what the institution of the Catholic Church stands for, and since I have moved to the UK, I have felt more affiliated with the Church of England. One of the prime reasons being the lack of the celibacy vow, and the fact that Vicars can have their own families and children, so their sermons about family seem a lot more genuine and realistic than those of the Catholics *That’s just my personal opinion, no offence to any “worldly” Catholics and clerics*. I could go into it more, but that’s not the point of this post.

We got married in a Church of England chapel, Becky was baptised in a Church of Wales church, and I would like Alex to be baptised in a Church of England ceremony, too. So far, so good.

But this is all proving a little bit more complicated, and I’m having a bit of a mare. Firstly, we’re undecided yet where to hold the ceremony. Becky’s was in Wales so John’s father, who sadly is severely disabled following a stroke, could attend. Various things have changed since then though, and as it looks right now, it might be better to do it in our home town rather than in Wales, but we’re still unclear on that.

John and I had decided on our prospective Godparents way before Alex was born. We have asked my friend Sandra from Germany, one of my closest friends, and one of John’s childhood friends, Carl. Both are brilliant, genuine people who have a great relationship with our children and who we know would make very good Godparents.

However, this is opening up a string of problems. Sandra is Catholic, and Carl hasn’t been baptised. When I enquired in my local parish, they said that they would be happy to christen Alex, but that both godparents had to be baptised in the Church of England. Later I was told that my Catholic friend will be ok, as they are inclined to accept any Baptism, but that Carl will not be allowed to be official Godfather, though he could have a supporting role. Hmm.

This has really thrown us, me especially, as I really, maybe naively, hadn’t give this any thought. I guess in hindsight, it is somewhat understandable that the Church traditionally stipulates that only baptised Christians can be Godparents – as the original role of Godparents is to give spiritual guidance – but no one brought this up when Becky was baptised. In fact, her Godparents are a similar constellation, my best friend Meike, who is Protestant, and John’s close friend Craig, who I believe, is not baptised either, and no one questioned it first time round and we were able to proceed.

I enquired with another parish church, but they said the same thing, they were even stricter and wanted specifically two female Godparents and one male one, all having to have been baptised.

I have – just to cover all options – rung the Welsh church again, but the parish has been closed for a while due to the previous Vicar having retired. The Church warden, a lovely lady whom I know personally as she also runs the local B&B where my parents stayed last time and whose daughter is my mother-in-law’s neighbour, was very helpful, however, and promised to make some enquiries and even said that potentially they could get a Vicar out of retirement and do the ceremony. There is, however, still a question mark over Carl’s role.

This is all very complicated and is stressing me out a lot.

We picked our Godparents on the merit of their personalities and good character, as well as their relationship to our children. Surely, this should be the prime criterion? Especially in this day and age, where there are less and less church weddings and baptisms etc. going on, shouldn’t the church be more open minded?

This is a real dilemma. Neither John nor I want to change our Godparents, and John even goes as far as to say that he’s ready to cancel the Christening, but that is a no-go for me and would be a huge blow. It’s difficult to describe, but I would feel that Alex’s future is not “protected” and “blessed” – I realise this will sound silly to most – and I just can’t not do it, even if it means, we have to appoint someone else.

The problem is, most of our friends or the people whom we deem appropriate enough in character to be Godparents or are close enough to, have not been baptised either (we’re clearly surrounded by a bunch of Infidels, he he). We really have a distinct shortage of candidates, especially, as many live very far away from us, or in Germany.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I’m awaiting response from the Church of Wales, and in the meantime, I’ll be ringing round more parishes and churches and see whether we can find some more flexible and tolerant Vicars.

We had such a lovely, perfect day when Becky was christened (a little snapshot from the day below) – I really want the same for Alex and have another lovely celebration, this time of our beautiful boy. Surely that’s not too much to ask?


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