Welcome to the Benefice of Wolverhampton Saint Martin and Saint Stephen Website.
The Benefice of Wolverhampton St Martin and St Stephen is made up of two Anglo-
Sometimes people are confused about the terms “baptism” and “christening”. They actually refer to the same liturgy of initiation into the life of the Church as Christ’s body throughout the world and down the ages, with “baptism” being the more ancient and ecumenical term.
Beside the font stands the Paschal (Easter) Candle and each year the water in the font is re-
It is through the cross and resurrection that humanity is drawn irresistibly back in love to the generous and inclusive heart of God. A candle, lit from the Paschal candle is given to each candidate on the occasion of their baptism, reminding them of our call to illuminate and transform the world with the brightness of God’s love.
Baptism is the foundational sacrament of the Church and by it we become a member of Christ’s body, the Church, throughout the world. In baptism the decision is made to follow Christ and reject evil. For those unable to answer for themselves these promises are made on their behalf by their parents and godparents.
Into the Body of Christ?
Baptism is about being part of the wider family of the Church and becoming a new member of the church community. Ideally, it is best for a Baptism to take place at / during the main Mass on a Sunday morning so that all those present are representatives of the wider body of God’s family, who are able to welcome the new member into the church community.
However, it is possible for a Baptism to take place at another time, following discussions with Fr Tony, although the wider body of God’s family would not be there to welcome the new member.
Since baptism is about joining that wider family of the Church it is a good idea to attend the main Sunday Mass for a few Sundays prior to the Baptism.
Who can be baptised?
Baptism is open to anyone who has not been previously baptised. Normally you should live within either Saint Martin’s or Saint Stephen’s parish, although if you are a regular worshipper at these churches but living outside the parishes this may also be possible.
How do I arrange a baptism at St Martin’s or St Stephen’s?
Godparents – who and how many?
There are normally three godparents – two of the same gender as the child and one of the opposite. All godparents should themselves be baptised Christians as they seek to support and encourage the child in the faith and make the promises on his/her behalf.
What happens at the Service?
If the Baptism is during the main Sunday Mass it takes place after the Sermon. The Parents and Godparents make promises, on behalf of the those to be baptised, and everyone also celebrates their own baptismal faith and their desire to welcome a new member into the family of the Church.
Everyone then moves to the baptistery at the back of the church to gather round the font for the Baptism itself. The priest then blesses the water in the font and pours the water over the candidates head baptising the child/candidate ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.
Special oils are used during the baptism, these have been blessed by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet during a special service, called the ‘Chrism Mass’ in the week just before Easter each year. This reminds us that we are part of the wider church family. A small amount of the Oil of Catechumens is used at the beginning of the service, signifying the beginning of a journey or pilgrimage of faith. The Oil of Chrism is used at this point, signifying how special we are in the sight of God. Anointing with Oil of Chrism signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is used to consecrate someone or something to God's service. Just as monarchs were anointed with oil in the Old Testament so are all people anointed in the Christian tradition to show that we are special and called to continue in the prophetic, priestly and royal ministry of Jesus Christ.
A candle is given, lit from the large Paschal (Easter) Candle, calling to mind Christ’s rising from the dead and reminding us that we are to shine like lights in the world, just as Jesus commanded us to do and will cost you nothing! There will however be the opportunity to make a donation to the life and work of the Church during the service.
If it has been agreed that the Baptism is to take place at another time, outside of the Sunday Mass, everyone gathers in the main body of the church for the first part of the service, when the Parents and Godparents make promises on behalf of the those to be baptised. Then everyone moves to the baptistery at the back of the church to gather round the font for the Baptism itself. Unfortunately, on that occasion there will not be members of the church congregation present to welcome the new member into the family of the Church.
What do I do now?
If you have any further questions please do feel free to speak to one of the Priests. We very much look forward to welcoming you and your child as members of the family of God at either Saint Martin’s or Saint Stephen’s.