Marriage and Baptism

See, here’s the problem with the latest outpouring of “pastoral sensitivity” from the Church of England. On the one hand the official guidance says:

In some of those instances where couples seeking a church wedding already have children, the couple might also be looking to have their children baptized. In most cases, the couple’s wedding and the children’s baptism will take place on separate occasions. This is to be preferred, as it allow for a series of sustained pastoral encounters with the family.

In the Church of England, Baptism is normally administered on Sundays at the best-attended act of pubic worship, so that the congregation may witness the newly-baptized being received into the Church (see Canon B 21).

This is completely sensible. Marriage and Baptism are two completely different things. Baptism should always take place at the main weekly gathering because it is a sacrament of entry into the community of those following Christ. QED.

Look, this is what Canon B21 says.

It is desirable that every minister having a cure of souls shall normally administer the sacrament of Holy Baptism on Sundays at public worship when the most number of people come together, that the congregation there present may witness the receiving of them that be newly baptized into Christ’s Church, and be put in remembrance of their own profession made to God in their baptism.

Nice and simple and clear. The Church then goes and spoils all that by saying:

If, however, a minister decides, for pastoral reasons, to combine marriage and baptism in a single act of worship, the order below suggests how this might be done. It draws on material from the Church of England’s authorized Marriage and Baptism services from Common Worship.

In order to ensure that the baptism witnesses clearly to the reception of the newly-baptized into the Church, ministers should encourage a limited but substantial number of people from the local congregation to attend the celebration.

Like that’s going to happen at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. “Excuse me Mr Jones, would you like to give up your one day a week with your family to allow a couple to not bother coming to the main weekly service to baptise their children? No? Don’t blame you.”

Either the Church of England believes that Baptism should happen in the main weekly gathering, or it doesn’t, but let’s not have this pandering to the lowest common denominator nonsense. What next? Blessing toilets?

Oh wait…

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