When I was a few months old, I was christened into the Church of England in Christ Church, Swindon, where we were living in 1968 when my father worked for GEC. My brothers had also been christened as had my mum and dad before us. Mum was also confirmed. Not sure about Dad, but possibly as he had been at public school. Neither my brothers nor I were confirmed. Despite the promise made by our godparents:
Ye are to take care that this child be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him.
Do godparents still promise this? (And has the Church changed its baptism cards to include ‘her’ as well as ‘him’?) I wouldn’t know as I haven’t been to a C of E christening in a long time, not because I am not a Christian. I am. But I’m a Baptist.
Back in the day I would have been persecuted for being an anabaptist – someone who has been re-baptised as a believer – because I was baptised again as an adult (full immersion this time). As Baptists we bring our babies to the church for dedication and then, when they are older, they can make their own decisions about baptism – the equivalent of confirmation in the Anglican Church. Nowadays there’s a trend for Baptists to choose godparents for their kids too, which I think is lovely.
I have three godparents: two godmothers and a godfather. Despite them, I still became a Christian. Auntie Anne did her best. I haven’t seen Auntie Brenda since I was a kid so I don’t really remember her (though I did find out that her brother was the late, legendary, TV chef who liked a glass of wine). And then there’s Uncle John who is very dear to me but not exactly a fully paid up member of the church club.
So what are godparents? And why have I never been asked to be one? I think I would have made an awesome godmother. But none of my contemporaries had their kids christened back when I was of an age for godparenting. And now, when I have more friends who are both Christians and having babies, I am too old.
To be asked to take some responsibility and care for a child’s spiritual journey is a privilege. Whatever beliefs you hold, spirituality is an aspect of personal growth that can be missed and that should be cherished and nurtured. It’s never too late.
And remember, it’s not all about who you ask to the party. Really.