CHRISTENINGS are on the up across Sunderland as the country celebrates the baptism of Prince George.
Now, the city’s religious leaders are supporting calls from the Archbishop of Canterbury, urging more parents to have their children christened.
Rev Chris Howson, priest at Sunderland Minster, and Fiona Collin, curate at the landmark church, said they hope that yesterday’s ceremony will encourage others to come forward.
While Archbishop Justin Welby, a former Bishop of Durham, said that he hopes the “extraordinary” baptism will inspire others to the same ceremony.
Prince George, son to Prince William and Katherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was baptised in the Chapel Royal, at St James’ Palace, by the Most Rev Welby yesterday.
Rev Howson said the royal couple had given their three-month-old son the greatest gift a parent can give a child.
“Baptism is a way to give thanks for a new creation,” he said.
“Every parent should want the best for their child, and by baptising a child you are wanting to bring peace and joy and happiness into their life.
“I can’t think of a better gift than that for a new child.”
Curate Fiona Collin, said baptisms are already on the increase in Sunderland.
“I would encourage parents to baptism at the minster,” she said.
“Although a lot of parents in Sunderland already want to nurture their children’s spirituality.
“We have about two christenings a month, which keeps us busy, and I would say that number is increasing.”
Rev Howson added: “The North East in general has a high percentage of people who are Christian.
“But I would hope it will encourage parents to get their babies baptised. It makes people realise how special it is to bring a child before God to celebrate new life.
“Not just for the royal family, but the significance of each new born.”
And the priest, who has worked with the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the Most Rev Welby would have relished the opportunity to be involved in the occasion.
“He would celebrate every baptism he does, and enjoy every one,” he said.
“I know it would have brought him enormous joy and he will have enjoyed it enormously.”
Prince George’s christening was a moment of historical significance because as king of England, he will be Supreme Governor of the Church of England, founded by King Henry VIII in 1534 during the English Reformation, and yesterday was welcomed into the church.
No difference between terms
* There is no difference between a baptism and christening. Baptism derives from the Bible – Jesus was baptised – and christening is a traditional English word which means to become a member of the Christian church. Babies are baptised during a christening service, just as people are married during a wedding service.
* Godparents are not necessarily people who will look after a child should anything happen to the parents, but rather they are people who can give it spiritual guidance, and answer the bigger questions in life – for example questions of faith, love and hope.
* Every child should have no fewer than three godparents, and at least two of the same sex as the child.
* Parents can be their child’s godparent, providing they have at least one other godparent.
* Baptisms are used to welcome a child into the church and said to wash away the original sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Bible.
* Symbols are used to fill the child with new life. Water is the symbol of life and death, a candle represents the light of Christ coming into the child’s life, oil represents power, strength and healing, and the baptism garment – or shawl – provided by the family, which is usually white, is a symbol of taking on a new way of life.