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Newark Parish Church offering new service to celebrate and welcome children

A new service is being offered at Newark Parish Church to celebrate and welcome children.

The blessing service is described as a new take on an old tradition.

The central act of the service is making the sign of the cross on the forehead of an infant using holy oil.

Rev David Pickersgill (28845964)
Rev David Pickersgill (28845964)

This is an ancient Christian tradition, but it is being offered for the first time at St Mary’s.

The service also involves prayers and a reading from the Bible, and gives parents an opportunity to speak about their hopes for the child. It can involve music if the family wishes.

Family and friends will make promises to care for the child as they grow older. The child is also named, although the service does not have a legal status.

The service will be more flexible and easy to access than a christening, and is free ­— unlike a civil naming ceremony.

The church has seen an increase in the number of children and young people attending recently, and this is another step in showing how important children and young people are in church.

The vicar, the Rev David Pickersgill, said: “We found that families felt discouraged from having their babies christened because of some of the requirements, like the need for christenings to happen during a Sunday service, or for godparents to be baptised and confirmed themselves.

“So we initiated this service in order to offer more flexibility, and hopefully engage more families with the good news that Jesus welcomes everyone, especially children.

“It also offers all of the elements of a naming ceremony, but unlike a civil service, God is at the centre of it.”

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