Before a baptism is arranged, there will always be a conversation with the Minister. These notes are written to clarify some issues, but of course you can discuss them, or any other points, with the Minister.
Elvet's font, donated by the Scout group when the church was re-ordered
What is baptism?
Baptism marks entry into the Christian Church. It is a sign of God’s gracious love and should be the beginning of a life of Christian discipleship. It is not merely a social occasion but a specifically Christian act. Baptism is a “sacrament” – a means of conveying God’s love to us.
Why do we baptize young children?
Not all churches do, but the Methodist Church does – in appropriate circumstances. We believe that it is appropriate to baptize the children of practising Christian parents. Young children are baptized on the understanding that they will be brought up in the fellowship of the Church and taught the Christian faith. The hope and prayer is that they will grow up to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, to enter fully into the Church’s life, and to serve Christ in the world.
A little child cannot understand any of this, so parents have a vitally important role to play. They are asked to make solemn promises, which they should then endeavour to keep in the years that lie ahead.
What promises are parents asked to make?
There are three promises. The following is a quotation from the service:
Minister: Will you love these your children, committing yourselves to care for them in body, mind and spirit?
Parents: With God's help we will.
Minister: Will you, therefore, ensure that they are nurtured in the faith and life of the Christian community?
Parents: With God's help we will.
Minister: Will you set before them a Christian example, that through your prayers, words and deeds, they may learn the way of Christ?
Parents: With God's help we will.
Isn’t all this the duty of Godparents?
No. Godparents are optional in the Methodist Church. If there are godparents, they promise “to help the parents in the Christian upbringing of the child”. So it is obviously necessary that the godparents should be practising Christians. Nevertheless, it is the parents who bear the final responsibility before God for the Christian upbringing of the child.
Does this means we have to come to church?
We do not categorically refuse to baptize a child just because the parents do not attend church; but it is very difficult to see how parents who do not attend church regularly can keep their promises.
Shouldn’t religion be left for the child to decide?
Eventually, it has to be. But if you think that the matter should be left, without any influence from you, until your son or daughter can make up his or her own mind, then infant baptism is not what you are looking for. The promises clearly state that you will bring up the child in the Christian faith.
What if we can’t make the promises?
If what you mainly want is an opportunity to give thanks for the child’s arrival, and you do not feel that you can honestly make the promises which are included in the baptism service, we can offer a service of thanksgiving instead.
What is a service of thanksgiving?
This is a form of service in which we thank God for the gift of the child. Prayers are offered for the child and his or her home and family.
What should we do next?
You are welcome to make an appointment to see the Minister to discuss the way forward and to make arrangements for either a service of thanksgiving or a service of baptism. You can contact him by phone (0191 340 9701) or by email.
Elvet Methodist Church is a very popular venue for weddings, and enquiries are welcome from couples wishing to be married at the church. The church is able to offer an attractive city centre setting, fine organ music, and the services of ministers who have vast experience in helping to prepare couples for their special day and of guiding them through the marriage service itself.
We also arrange two “marriage preparation evenings” every year. It is not compulsory to attend these, but they are very worthwhile (and every year we get very positive and enthusiastic responses from those who have attended).
Are there rules about where we live?
Yes. Normally, at least one of the people getting married should live in the “County of Durham” registration district, which (as its name suggests) covers most, though not quite all, of County Durham. An exception can be made if the church is your ‘normal place of worship’. The registration authorities can also suggest ways in which people, not normally resident in the district, can meet the residence requirements. The Minister can explain all this in more detail.
One of us has been married previously, and divorced. Is this a problem?
Some churches are not able to conduct a marriage service for anyone who has been divorced, but the rules of the Methodist Church allow ministers to conduct the marriage of a divorced person if they feel it appropriate to do so. There is no automatic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. It can be resolved only by a conversation with the Minister.
How do we arrange our wedding?
Our beautiful church is very popular for weddings.
Wedding flowers can contribute greatly to a happy atmosphere on the day and we do understand that brides may wish to organise their own floral arrangements, to their personal specifications.
If so, provisions must be made with our caretaker - at least 2 weeks in advance– in order for the professionals or ‘outside’ arrangers to arrange to have access to the church, prior to the ceremony.
Of course, we can also cater for the bride who does not want "a lot" of flowers, but would like, for example, one eye-catching arrangement in the worship area.
Our experienced ‘in-house Flower Arranging Team’ can offer the couple an elaborate pedestal arrangement, which could be coordinated to the bride’s colours. These flowers will be left ‘in situ’ after the wedding, in order to enhance the following Sunday morning and evening services, when there will be prayers said for the happy couple, their friends and family.
For this service we ask a minimum donation of £50 – which must be paid 4 weeks in advance.
Please make known which option you wish to choose in plenty of time prior to your big day.
The Minister of Elvet Methodist Church (or another minister in the Durham and Deerness Valley Circuit) will always be available to offer support to the bereaved after a death in the family, and to conduct funeral services.
It is usual for the family to contact a Funeral Director in the first instance. The Funeral Director will then contact the Minister.
The Minister will meet the person making the arrangements – usually in that person’s home. This is an opportunity to discuss the form of service and to share memories of the loved one who has died.
For the funeral itself, there are three main possibilities:
- A service in the Church followed by committal at a cemetery or crematorium
- A committal at either a cemetery or a crematorium followed by a service of thanksgiving in the Church
- A service and committal wholly at the Crematorium