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The Godparents Role

The Godparent's Role

When babies are baptised they can’t make choices or answer questions for themselves, so someone needs to represent them. Godparents were originally introduced into Baptism and Christening services for this reason, although now the role of godparent has become much more that of a friend and mentor than a spiritual guide. In the early years of the Christian Church, a godparent was often the "sponsor" who introduced an adult to the faith.

Becoming a godparent is not a legal commitment and does not make you a legal guardian. Your role is more that of a supportive adult with a special interest in the development and upbringing of the child. Your own religious outlook and that of the child’s parents will determine your spiritual responsibilities. It is an honour and a blessing to become a godparent and some people take on the role a number of times, although we wouldn't recommend taking on as many as The Queen's Godchildren.

Stuck for Christening gift ideas? Take a look at our popular gifts for godparents

WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY

OK, so you have armed yourself with a beautiful sterling silver Christening gift or Baptism present from CHRISTENINGsilver.com, but your responsibilities don’t stop there.

As a godparent, be prepared for the unexpected. Apart from fulfilling your responsibilities at the church service and making some considered declarations, you may be called upon to make a speech or propose a toast, so it may be worth having a few thoughts jotted down beforehand. There’s nothing worse than being caught off-guard.

Your role during the church service varies by Church, denomination and even congregation, but we have listed below the main aspects of the role.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Church law stipulates that a godparent should ideally have been baptised and confirmed, but discretion is often used to allow a godparent to stand even if he or she has not been confirmed, as long as they have been baptised.

"For every child to be baptised there shall be not fewer than three godparents, of whom at least two shall be of the same sex as the child and of whom at least one shall be of the opposite sex; save that, when three cannot conveniently be had, one godfather and god mother shall suffice. Parents may be godparents for their own children provided that the child has at least one other godparent.

The godparents shall be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities both by their care for the children committed to their charge and by the example of their own godly living."

During the service godparents are asked to answer questions and make declarations on the child’s behalf. These vary according to the service, but we have outlined the most common form below:

Before the baptism itself parents and godparents are asked to answer these questions, to declare their desire to be a godparent and their intention to do their best to fulfil their duties:

Will you pray for them (the children), draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with the in the way of Christ?
With the help of God we will.

Will you care for them (the children) and help them take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church?
With the help of God we will.

They are then asked these six questions which they all answer together:

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ.

For a full transcript, visit:
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/initiation/baptism.html

ROMAN CATHOLIC

As with the Church of England, the godparents’ eligibility is laid down by Church law. Godparents must be 16 or over, a Roman Catholic who has both received Holy Communion and been confirmed. They must be free of church penalties and have been appointed by the parents, but not be the biological parent of the child. Once again these rules are subject to interpretation and, once again, the role of godparent carries no legal responsibilities and does not make you a legal guardian.

During the service godparents are asked to answer questions and make declarations on the child’s behalf. These vary according to the service, but we have outlined the most common form below:

The parents and godparents have to make three declarations:

That they turn to Christ
That they repent of their sins
That they renounce evil

They are then asked three questions:

Do you believe and trust in God the Father who made Heaven and Earth?
Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ who redeemed mankind?
Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God?

They must answer each of these:
I believe and trust in Him

Full details of the Catholic service can be found at:
http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk

AND FINALLY

We hope that the celebrations are fun and full of meaning and that you enjoy your role on the day and for many years to come … and don’t forget to take one of our sterling silver Christening gifts with you.