Alternative Ways of Naming a Baby
By Tony Luck
Traditionally, babies have been named at a christening/baptism. Most still are, but increasingly parents are choosing an alternative, non-religious ceremony.
There are three types of service available at a Church.
The traditional Infant Baptism (which most people call a 'christening'), here the parents declare the child to be a follower of Jesus Christ;
A service of Dedication, when the parents make promises about the upbringing of their child - these services are common in Baptist churches; and
A Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, a service of Blessing which is based on what Jesus did when children were brought to Him. This service is increasingly popular in the Anglican Church as parents are less inclined to make promises on the child's behalf that he or she may not wish to keep later in life.
Many parents don't go to church themselves and don't want to have their child named in a church service. There are alternatives.
You can hold a family gathering at your own home or a hired venue near home at which the baby is named. You can do this yourself, have a senior member of the family perform the naming, or bring someone in to hold a formal ceremony.
The Baby Naming Society will help you to put on a religious or non-religious ceremony. For a small fee they will provide:
A personalized script from a choice of ceremonies;
A short program which can be copied for your guests;
A certificate for you to keep as a memento of the service;
Copies of readings chosen from the Society's selection.
Another source worth looking at is the British Humanist Association where you will be able to get similar advice. The BHA is a non-religious organization. A helpful book, New Arrivals, is available. Contact them at humanism.org.uk.
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