The Church of Saint Matthew,
apostle & evangelist
A parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
A Guide for Godparents
Chosen as a Baptismal Sponsor
You are going to be a godparent.
Congratulations on being chosen as a baptismal sponsor.
A very special relationship embracing your godchild, you, and God begins here.
The Book of Common Prayer tells us that baptism is “the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God” (p.858). To be baptized is to enter into life in Christ.
What qualifies you to be a Sponsor/Godparent?
- You are a baptized Christian who can, in good conscience, make the required baptismal promises on behalf of the baptized.
- You need not be Episcopalian, but it is hoped that you participate in the Christian congregation of your choice.
- Godparents are chosen by the candidate for baptism or the family to take on this role and responsibility. This is an expression of confidence in you. Together you and your godchild will live the Christian life.
What is expected of you as a sponsor/godparent?
- Establish a unique and lasting relationship with the baptized
- Represent the loving care of Christ and the Church to the baptized, standing with the candidate at the time of baptism and staying near to assist as your godchild lives into the promises of baptism
- Set an example of Christian life for the baptized; and
- Support your godchild always in prayer.
Collect for the Baptism of the Lord
Father in Heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized in his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
(BCP, p. 214)
How can you prepare to be a Sponsor/Godparent?
- Read the baptismal service in the Book of Common Prayer (pages 299-308); online at bcponline.com
- Explore the questions and promises surrounding baptism, in your own heart and with the candidate for baptism and family
- Attend any preparation sessions to which you may be invited
- Pray for the baptismal candidate and the family
What does a Sponsor/Godparent do during the baptismal service?
- You sit with the family and candidate in the congregation, coming forward when invited by the presider during the service.
- During the initial Presentation and Examination of the Candidates, the candidates, parents, and godparents (of infants and young children) make a series of renunciations and promises
- In the Baptismal Covenant, all recite the Apostles Creed and reaffirm five baptismal promises providing direction for life as a disciple of Christ
- At the moment of Baptism, the candidate, parents, family and sponsors gather around the baptismal font. The candidate is baptized with water in the name of the Three Persons of the Trinity and sealed with oil in the sign of the cross.
What are the baptismal promises?
- Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
- Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
- Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
- Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
- Will you strive for peace and justice among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
What is a Sponsor/Godparent’s role after the Baptism?
We hope that the newly-baptized persons, supported through the future by family and godparents, will mature in the Christian faith. Godparents can support this growth by prayer and example.
- Remember the anniversary of the baptism with a prayer, card, and conversation
- Note other life milestones as well - birthdays, graduations, marriage, births, illnesses and bereavements
- When possible, attend worship services with your godchild, willing to talk about your own journey in Christ
- Express ongoing interest in how your godchild is growing in Christ.
Above all, with confidence allow your lifelong relationship to evolve over time as Christ guides you both through life.
A detail from the mosaics of the Neoniano Baptistery in Ravenna, Italy (5th century)
“Chosen to be a Sponsor” from St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC
St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Woodstock IL