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Baptisms, Christenings, and Dedications
The Differences Researched, Defined, and Explained

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For over 10 years, we have offered beautiful custom, hand made invitations and announcements for Baptisms, Dedications, Christenings, First Holy Communions, and Baby Namings. Throughout those years, customers have often asked, What is the difference between a Baptism and Christening? What is a Baby Dedication? What is a Naming? From extensive research and experience in working with these events, as well as my own personal experiences and realm of knowledge, I will answer those questions and more for you in this page. Though we encourage you to learn from it, share it and enjoy it, we respectfully ask that you do not repost this information as your own work, if you repost this information, we require you give credit to the author and a link back to our site. Thank you!!

The Baptismal, Christening and Dedication ceremonies which are preformed in various churches and denominations around the world, vary in length, formality and inclusions. From a simple Baby Dedication without a water baptism, to casually dressed church members dipping and being dipped in the local river, to hundreds of people in attendance, with specific rites, passages, obligations, responsibilities, rituals and traditions, the intent of the believers is the same! To please God, to dedicate ourselves and/or our children to Him, His church and/or His service; to honor our faith with a faithful declaration.

I thank God that He knows our hearts, that He knows our intention through these ceremonies is to simply but profoundly dedicate ourselves and our children to Him. I don't think He cares what we call them!

The various ceremonies themselves are different, so here is an explanation of each. I hope this is as informative to you as writing it was for me! Feel free to send your comments to me, the site owner and author, Julie Heifner, at:

Dedications - A Dedication, also known as an Infant Dedication or Baby Dedication, is a Christian ceremony which simply dedicates an infant to God, welcomes the baby into the church, and has the parents dedicate themselves to raising the child as a Christian. The ceremony specifically does not include baptizing the baby with water. A baby Dedication is performed in Baptist, non-denominational, and Assmebly of God churches, instead of an infant baptism. These churches do believe in peforming water baptisms, but subscribe to the doctorine that baptism should only be undertaken by someone who is a believer and follower of Christ and is able to make the choice to be baptized; which an infant is not yet able to do. Most churches that perform these "Believer's Baptisms" normally do so with total submersion in water - often in "living waters" such as a river or lake - with many church members in attendance at these exciting celebrations of faith.

For more information on Baptist's beliefs on Baptism and Dedications, you can visit this informative website:

Doing Baptism Baptist Style - "Believer's Baptism"
Likewise, for more information on Assemblies of God beliefs on Baptism and Baby Dedications, you can visit this informative website:
"Infant Baptism, Age of Accountability, Dedication of Children"

When we use the terms "dedication" on invitations, we capitalize it if the invitation is for an actual "Dedication" ceremony - since it is the name of the event and therefore a proper noun:

"Our precious little angel sent from Heaven above, will be Dedicated to Christ's family with joy and with love".,

but if we use the term on a Baptism or Christening invitation, we do not capitalize, because it is used as a verb:

"Our precious little angel sent from Heaven above, will be dedicated to Christ's family, with joy and with love."

Baptisms - The most common use of the word "Baptism" refers to the ceremony of a water baptism, a Christian event, performed in some manner by almost every church and denomination. Water baptism began as the act of washing all or part of the body with water - with the intention of purification - washing away sin and transgressions, being cleansed unto repentance - but which is now mainly an act of proclaimation of one's faith and dedication to Jesus Christ and in some cases dedication to the church performing the baptism.

Most denominations & churches hold baptism ceremonies for infants, although others such as Baptists and most non-denominational churches, do not baptize babies. They practice only what is knows as "Believer's Baptism" whereby the person being baptized must be able to make a conscious decision to do so as a believer in Christ, which infants cannot yet do.

Some of the ceremonies baptize through total submersion in water, some do a partial immersion, others a "sprinkling" of water over the head or forehead. The "Believer's Baptism" is most often one of total submersion in water whereas most infant baptisms are either partial immersion or a sprinkling. Some denominations require you to be baptized to become a member of their church, some even believe that baptism is required for salvation. Most however, believe that though this may have been true prior to Jesus' crucifixion, that now, "in Him we have redeption through His blood, the forgivemess of sins, according to the riches of His grace" Ephesians 1:7. That salvation is given only through the grace of God, and water baptism, or any other act, is not a requirement for the gift of eternal life.

There are several references in the Bible to baptism, not all refer to water baptisms - John the Baptist baptized people in water, in the river Jordan. He proclaimed "I baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matthew 3:11 Another reference is in Romans 6 which says when we became believers we were "baptized" into Christ Jesus, that our sinfulness was "baptized" into His death, and now as He was resurected, we should walk in the newness of life; and in Ephesians it tells us "there is one Lord, one faith, one "baptism", one God and Father of all..." many believe that this "one baptism" is the believer being baptized or "united" with Christ through our faith in Him.

So, in the Bible, the word "Baptism", does not always refer to a water Baptism ceremony, though that is the most common use of the term today. I found this summary on Yahoo Questions which nets out the intention of the water baptism. Though in this article they also contrasted Catholic's beliefs as requiring baptism for salvation (I did not post that section here), I have found that in the Catholic Rite of Baptism (which I have printed many times in Programs for Catholic ceremonies), that the verbiage in their ceremony also reflects what is written below:

"Christian baptism, according to the Bible, is an outward testimony of what has occurred inwardly in a believerís life. Christian baptism illustrates a believerís identification with Christís death, burial, and resurrection. The Bible declares, ďOr don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new lifeĒ (Romans 6:3-4 NIV). In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water pictures being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christís resurrection."

The Baptismal ceremonies which are preformed in various churches and denominations vary in length, formality and inclusions. From casually dressed church members dipping and being dipped in the local river, to hundreds of people in attendance, with specific rites, passages, obligations, responsibilities, rituals and traditions, the intent of the believer's is the same! To please God, to dedicate ourselves and/or our children to Him, His church and His service; to honor our faith with a faithful declaration. I thank God that He knows our hearts, that He knows our intention through these ceremonies is to simply but profoundly dedicate ourselves and our children to Him. I don't think He cares what we call it!

Christenings - The Random House Dictionary defines Christening as 1. the ceremony of baptism; 2. a formal, public ceremony where a ship is named and launched; and 3. the act of naming or dedicating something.

In religous practice, I have found that it is only in the Catholic church that a Baptism is sometimes referred to as a Christening and often the terms are used interchangeably. I have found in my research, many writings that state that the Christening is part of the baptism ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church. That it is simply the Naming portion whereby the baby's name is publically given and proclaimed... "we Christen you ... (name) in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

However, none of the information that says the Christening is part of the Baptismal ceremony, came from the Catholic church! In an effort to fully understand if there is such an event called a Christening as part of the Roman Catholic Church or as part of their "Sacrament (or Rite) of Baptism", I found and read the Vatican archives, which gives a wealth of information on their definition of Baptism, the various names that the Catholic Church uses to refer to their Baptism, their beliefs regarding the requirement of being Baptized in the Catholic Church, etc. I have also designed & printed many programs (a fancy agenda handed out to guests of the ceremony) for Catholic Rite of Baptism ceremonies. Nowhere in either of these locations - the Vatican definitions of the Sacrament of Baptism or in the Rite of Baptism programs I've created (with content coming directly from the churches), have I found the word "Christening" anywhere. Not in reference to the ceremony itself or any part or section of the ceremony. Based on this research, I must conclude that there is no actual "Christening" ceremony or Sacrament in the Catholic church. I did not find any reference to Christenings for any other religious denomination. Every invitation or program I've designed for a "Christening" has always been for a Catholic family.

There are many elements or components to a Catholic Rite of Baptism including an actual section called Baptism, and in that section they do use the baby's name and state that "(baby's name), I Baptize you in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit..." but no mention of Christening is actually made. I have found in the very beginning of the ceremony - called The Reception of the Child - that the priest asks the parents "What name have you given your child?" that in itself as does the entire Rite of Baptism fit into the dictonary's definition of a Christening - "the act of naming or dedicating something".

I believe then, that there is no actual, church recognized, formal, event or ceremony known as a "Christening". I believe that over the years, it has become accepted in some Catholic churches to interchangably use the word "Christening" to refer to the very formal "Catholic Rite of Baptism" which is one of the Seven Sacraments, in fact it is the First Sacrament of Christian Initiation. I stated earlier, that I thank God that He knows our hearts, that He knows our intentions through these ceremonies are to dedicate ourselves or our children to Him and that I don't think He cares what we call it.

The Catholic Church however, cares very deeply that a Catholic is baptized! Preferably as an infant in case they die before getting baptized, but if a Catholic is not baptized as an infant, they absolutely can be baptized as an adult.

Includes the information below and everything you want to know about the Sacraments of Christian Initiation - which include participation in Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist

Copied from the VATICAN archives:


1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.

Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature."6 1215 This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."7 1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ." Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself:9 Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship.10 VI. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.60 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.61
This is very interesting reading! The section goes on to essentially say that if you couldn't be baptized or didn't know you should be baptized or died before you could be baptized, that God acknowledges your intent or ignorance and by grace and mercy will accept such a person as having been baptized through the blood of Christ.

Please check back as we finish... I just wanted to post what we have so far! We will be adding definitions and research on the following additional ceremonies... meanwhile, if you have questions, feel free to email them to us!
Original Posting January 25, 2010

Namings -

Sealings -

First Holy Communion -

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