Baptisms are wonderful occasions at All Saints but Mary Lynne and I do more than our usual rushing around before the service. On the special day everything should be perfect! In addition to seeing that readers have arrived we wonder if we need to recruit extra sidespeople?    Are there enough pram spaces for the friends of the christening babies and especially will the  families arrive in enough time to let us know if we have reserved enough rows at the front for family and friends?
Thanks to the Baptism Prep Sessions we do not worry about the families feeling at home at All Saints.   Baptism Preps are a relatively new phenomenon at All Saints. They began with what seemed to be a minor baby boom in East Sheen.   There is a schedule of dates for baptisms and we had just had a rather large baptism with about 100 visitors.  The schedule told us we had time to recover but  Fr Stuart emailed that he needed to squeeze another one in.  “Why so soon? Can’t we space them out a little?” I answered. (My  feet were still throbbing after the busy service.)   “I’m not the one having the babies!” he emailed back – which was true.  But squeezing in extra  family visits into his full  schedule was another matter  so he created the Baptism Prep for families having their christenings on the same day.  The preps are normally held at 3 PM on a Sunday and  are followed by a delicious tea and the opportunity to meet church members with younger children.   We did wonder how people would respond to the intrusion into their Sunday afternoons at first but the feedback has been 100% positive. The families tell us they enjoy the prep and that it is nice meeting each other before the baptism service.
Alice Barron and Samuel Shepherd were christened on the same day in church.  We asked their mothers, Lizzie Barron and Maureen Shepherd to comment on the prep session.   Here is what Lizzie Barron had to say.

Our baptism preparation class at All Saints was a wonderful experience and really helped cement our reasons for getting our daughter Alice baptized. The first thing that struck us was how welcome we were made to feel by everyone at the church. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal, and Father Stuart instantly put us at ease with his friendly and fun manner (we even laughed at his jokes!). Father Stuart also helped us to reflect on what baptism meant to us and why we had chosen to bring Alice into the Christian faith. The session was informative and we learned what would happen on the day itself, and what would be expected from the Godparents and our families. We left the church feeling incredibly positive and excited for Alice’s baptism and the journey she will be starting as a Christian.

Baptisms can take place at the 10AM service or at the 12 noon Late Service. Attending one service does not mean you have to schedule the baptism for that service however.  Young Samuel Shepherd had been a regular at the Late Service but his mother Maureen chose the 10 Am service for the baptism. Below she talks about the prep session.

To be told I would have to attend a baptism preparation – well… it sounded pretty daunting. Needless to say, I should not have worried.  Fr Stuart put as at ease and asked us to discuss amongst ourselves why we wanted our children christened.  It wasn’t a trick question with points for the right answers, but was interesting to learn other points of view.He answered all queries and we completed a short form listing the contact details of the godparents.

This was followed by a welcome cup of tea and a slice of a delicious chocolate cake and a chance to mingle or ask a private question. The whole thing was very relaxed and informative and it was lovely to see the other parents and their offspring.  My mind was now eased and instead of feeling apprehensive I was eager for the day to come.
It’s no secret that churches welcome families because of what they  represent – a thriving future for our church community.  All Saints is no different.  We hope they will notice the childrens’ groups, be impressed with (and even join) the choir and want to return for other services.
We want them to feel at home and begin to see what else we have to offer.
Alice, Parents and Godparents
The Baptism Prep has been a wonderful way to put our best foot forward while giving
people a more in depth look at faith and the chance to ask what it  means to them.