The occasional offices (baptisms, weddings and funerals) offer opportunities to help people of all ages to encounter God. For many young adults, these may be one of the rare occasions when they enter a church, meet people of faith and hear the Christian message of love and hope.
The Church Support Hub provides the latest information and practical resources to support ministry and mission through the Church of England’s occasional offices, as well as to help encourage, discern and nurture vocation.
Church of England’s Wedding Project offers practical ways to help couples and churches as they plan their weddings. For more information, visit Your Church Wedding. This site is used by half the couples who marry in the Church of England to draft their marriage service. It also has cards and gifts for churches to send to couples until their first anniversary, supported by an online reminder system for churches.
To help you make the most of church wedding and to think creatively about them, these books may be of interest:
“Making the most of weddings – a practical guide for churches’, Andrew Body, Church House Publishing, 2007, ISBN 9780715141250
Is your church making the most of weddings? This book is for anyone in parishes that would like to develop their ministry to wedding couples. Drawing on many years’ experience as a parish priest as well as ‘good ideas’ used by parishes throughout the UK, Andrew Body offers advice and practical wisdom on how churches can: promote their church as an attractive wedding venue; make positive initial contacts with wedding couples; help couples organize the service (including understanding the legal requirements); offer good marriage preparation and support the couple in the build-up to the big day; take the service well; ensure the wedding couples are not forgotten after the day itself.
“Creative Ideas for Pastoral Liturgy: Marriage Services and Wedding Blessings”, Jan Brind and Tessa Wilkinson, 2009, Canterbury Press, ISBN 9781853119507
Arising out of many years’ practical experience in local parishes and on a diocesan liturgical committee, this book will help local churches everywhere make the most of the opportunities presented by couples coming for marriage or a wedding blessing. The wedding industry today is driven by consumer choice. Churches are uniquely placed to offer: real pastoral support at what is often a stressful (and expensive!) time, time out to consider what marriage means and imaginative liturgies that can make a wedding truly memorable. This book is full of ideas that will help make the experience of getting married in church joyous, memorable and meaningful. From giving engaged couples ‘Stress-busting gift packs’, to creating personalised wedding ceremonies, ideas for church decorating and welcoming couples who have got married in another part of the country or abroad, this is a resource brimming with simple and effective ideas
In January 2012, the Archbishops’ Council launched a five year project to explore ways in which the Church of England can enhance the ministry it offers to those seeking baptisms in its churches. The result of this is a website (https://churchofenglandchristenings.org) which enables people to “discover all they need to know about choosing, planning and going to a Church of England christening”. There are guides for parents, godparents, guests and ideas for families after the service. The site is about children and babies being baptised but it sets this in the context of an ongoing journey of faith within a family: “There are lots of ways to continue the amazing journey of faith as a family. It’s not just about special times, but about the ordinary times of wonder, love and joy – and the times when things go wrong.” This maybe a helpful way of helping young adults with children to engage with faith at home. There is also the opportunity to light a virtual candle for those being baptised.
There are several books that you could use to help parents understand more deeply what baptism is and what it means for their child
Making the most of your child’s baptism, Ally Barrett, SPCK, ISBN 9780281064618
This book includes explanations of the words and actions in the baptism service, questions to think through, ideas to try and follow-up activities and prayers to use at home.
This book explains what baptism is (and what it isn’t), explains elements of the baptism service, has some frequently asked questions and some prayers for families to use.
Some ideas for baptism follow-up which can encourage families to explore faith at home can be found here
For creative ideas for baptism services:
“Creative ideas for pastoral liturgy: Baptism, confirmation and liturgies for the journey” Jan Brind and Tessa Wilkinson, 2010, Canterbury Press
Christian initiation takes varying forms in different denominations and for many non-churchgoing new parents, a christening or some other kind of ceremony is important at this landmark time in their lives. Equally, many adults seek baptism in the Church of England and the ancient practice of baptism with confirmation at the Easter Vigil is enjoying a revival. This volume offers imaginative ideas and liturgies for all these and many more occasions in the life of a local church which you will not find in official service books. These include: blessings for a house and a new building, thanksgiving liturgies for all who help to run the church, services of blessing for those moving away, for a student going travelling, for a group going on pilgrimage, for an ordinand starting training, and for someone going to serve overseas. This invaluable resource ensures that the authorised initiation liturgies are celebrated with imagination and creativity so that pastoral support and care is made clearly visible.
“Connecting with Baptism – A practical guide to Christian initiation” Mark Earey, Trevor Lloyd, Ian Tarrant, 2007, ISBN 9780715141106
Connecting with Baptism is a comprehensive and accessible companion resource to help clergy and lay leaders unpack Christian initiation pastorally, practically and theologically. In a down-to-earth and stimulating way it provides an enormous amount of practical help, background information and suggestions for clergy and lay leaders involved in taking policy decisions, providing pastoral care and using the initiation services. Written from a wealth of pastoral and liturgical experience, it covers the whole scope of Christian initiation, including baptism and confirmation.
Topics covered include:
- Infant baptism
- Connecting initiation with mission and evangelism
- The role of godparents
- Preparing adults for Christian initiation
- Helping those who are baptized or confirmed to grow in faith
- Christian initiation in Fresh Expressions of church
The guide includes real-life stories, discussion starters and helpful cross-references to other sections in the text and the Bible.
Ideas for nurturing faith and relationships
There are a number of resources produced to help families coming for baptism to explore faith at home provided on the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales website