A Baby’s Dedication in a Baptist Church

Block-Party-9Yesterday morning Kathleen and I attended a Baptist church in the neighborhood called the Beaches on the east side of Toronto close to Lake Ontario. The occasion was to witness a dedication service for our ten-month-old great grandson, Lane.

The dedication was part of a Sunday morning worship service and the building it was held in was a big and old but well-kept edifice. It had character.

The sanctuary itself had a faded splendor. Attendance was sparse, perhaps 80 or so in a sanctuary that would seat 250. We were delighted that our grandchildren, Ian and Chloe, were eager to present Lane to the Lord in this manner and the pastor made the dedication ritual personal and meaningful.

He noted clearly at the outset that this dedication would not be a salvation event; that neither the parents nor the church could save this child; that Lane would have to respond to the Gospel himself when his understanding was adequate to know in some measure that he had a personal need for a Savior.

Nevertheless, the pastor went on to commend the importance parents acknowledge when dedicating a child to God in this fashion, noting that they along with family and church would be expected to carry out faithfully the teaching and training pledged in this dedication. Together they would instruct Lane in the admonitions of the Lord.

The pastor’s message was titled: How to Raise Children to Know God. It was fully outlined in the bulletin and delivered clearly and with personal warmth, mainly in a teaching mode. The flock listened attentively from their places scattered here and there in the sanctuary.

The community surrounding this church building was long-established; houses were close together but well kept in repair and in some cases refurbished. This narrow street and many streets throughout the community were lined on one side with cars. Their owners had parked to go to the beaches, or the shops in the area.

Because there was no available parking at the church our daughter and her husband, who had brought us, found a parking space about six blocks away and then walked back to the church.

It was clear from the bulletin that this church was actively attempting to reach beyond its physical boundaries to offer ministry in the area. According to the bulletin, there also seemed to be an active church prayer life.

I admired the pastor, a man of 45 or so, for his optimism and courage in ministering in this context. This Beaches area was a slice of the modern city. As would be true in most urban areas, there would be great need for the Gospel in the tightly spaced surrounding community. In its midst, to a remnant of Christian city dwellers, the pastor ministered gently and positively.

Before entering the church, I had scanned the densely packed dwellings of this middle class community. Remembering my pastoral experiences, with so many homes intact on the outside but reeling on the inside, I felt the brokenness of our world.

And I felt a little sobered to realize that here was a church building that had once served a robust congregation. Christian influence at that time was accepted and widely recognized. Now the throngs were in the shops or on the beaches nearby while this facility was challenged for its existence.

But the faithful ministry to our grandchildren and great grandchild reminded me that whatever state society chooses, whether postmodern or secular, God will continue to challenge chosen men and women to take up the task of preaching the Gospel and ministering faithfully to needy people

There is no pastoral ministry more challenging than to gather in young couples and aid them in establishing Christian homes. This may not seize public attention or fill church pews quickly. But it’s long range results are immeasurable. The dedication of a baby in the presence of the congregation is at the center of that task.

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Photo credit: waverleyroadbaptist.ca


2 thoughts on “A Baby’s Dedication in a Baptist Church

  1. Congratulations Pastor Don & Kathleen, on your great grandson Lane’s dedication to Christ.

    That a congregation of 80 is considered sparse shows Canadian church attendances are healthier than here.Of course it’s relative,and as you explain this church in this Toronto neighbourhood .was originally designed to seat 250.

    I think Britain,my home ,must be in spiritual crisis as far as church attendance goes.The average attendance here is far lower than 80 ,for a Lord’s Day service in a parish church,at an intelligent guestimate.I may be wrong.It’s not much higher than that in our vast diocesan mother church, a huge city cathedral.

    There are local exceptions,but I think British congregations are painfully low. .I take Lord’s Supper regularly in the non denominational chapel of our cathedral,where visitors from other parts of Britain and even from around the world ,join us for Lord’s Supper of between 3 congregants and as many as 40 on a good day..

    Recently a couple from Toronto,Canada joined us and a few weeks ago a small party from the Congo.A small Baptist group from Newcastle who joined us, told us their Newcastle chapel had many hundreds of congregants and nearly a hundred children!

    Good news! Also,tour cathedral Sunday evening evangelical Praise Worship has often attracted many young people during university term time.It’s informal ,spontaneous.My city of Coventry has two universities ,which helps.I say good news because many of our services have very few young congregants.

    The Sunday morning Lord’s Supper ,or Eucharist ,usually has a congregation of maybe a hundred,maybe less,but the average age of congregant seems to rise with each decade.

    We are an Anglican cathedral ,a mother church for the diocese ,which also caters for Christians of all denominations.A recent Catholic Mass led by the Archbishop of Birmingham in Christian Unity week saw our cathedral packed full – over a thousand. We had to find extra seating and many stood.Mainly Roman Catholiceworshipers came but some wellwishers and a few ecumenical unity Protestants,like me.We receive a blessing at RC Mass as it’s not strictly regular for Protestants to receive Catholic communion bread and wine.But the blessing was loving ,in good wioll of course.

    I love the Roman Catholic church.I love all Christian churches as brothers and sisters in Christ who maybe have some doctrinal differences.

    There seems far higher attendance among Catholics in Britain than Anglicans,maybe even all Protestants..

    I attended Lord’s Supper on the Holy Day of the Feast of Circumcision or Naming of Jesus at our Cathedral on New Years Day.The dean presided ,giving the bread.A chaplain assisted ,giving the wine.I was the only celebrant apart from the dean and chaplain.A Lord’s Supper of 3.But as Jesus said

    ‘’ For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Mathew 18:20 NIV

    The Lord was present indeed..

    Now that was a very rare occasion – to be the only non officiating communicant on a red letter Holy day in our cathedral.But I remember one Cathedral Ascension Day Lord’s Supper when there were probably just less than the 80 congregation at Lane’s Dedication.

    .There are normally at least two of us celebrating apart from the presiding and assisting communicants. But this is a church of England mother church ,a cathedral.One hpes for more.The ministry team do work hard at outreach,are commited evangelists,as are many of we congregants.

    The Anglican church in my mother country,Wales,called The Church in Wales seems to have worse attendances in my experience.Visiting my sister in Haverfordwest,the principal town of South West Wales,I attended Saint Thomas for Sunday morning Lord’s Supper.There was the vicar,a married couple and me.A congregation of 4 in a large urban church.I hasten to say Baptist and Methodist chapel Sunday congregations are greater in this part of Wales,called Dyfed after Saint David of old ,son of Saint Non.

    I think all we British Christians need to think seriously about how we can reach out and draw more of our brothers and sisters in to Christ.

    Many British churches have infant baptism ,including ours.This is often called Christening ,but seems more than a decication since we have only one baptism.You cannot be paptized a second time.However ,on reaching adolescence, children baptized as infants can become candidates for Confirmation.So in a way ,their families have dedicated them in infancy and now they can publicly choose Jesus as their Savour,renounce the devil and all his works and become evangelists for Jesus.

    Baptism or Christening was forbidden me in infancy.Well,I wasn’t even aware of it,.When I became aware I was strongly discouraged from the Christian path,Both church and Sunday School were forbidden me.Disobediently,but with my mothers knowledge and blessing,I did however cycle to Sunday School. I think I recognized my mother as my principal authority.My Christian adventure had begun the moment the Bible became alive for me.

    I felt a great pain of exclusion at being unChristened,unbaptized.Much later,as an adult I became baptized and confirmed on the same afternoon,one Christ The King Holy Day.

    Best wishes to Lane,for his Christian journey,the great adventure following in the footsteps of Jesus our Saviour and role model.For He showed us how to live and it is written in the Gospels.

  2. Hi Don, Thank you for your blog post, which someone shared with me just last week. I was encouraged to read it as I can see that you ‘get’ what we are trying to do here in The Beach, and the challenges we face as we minister in a secular city.

    I like your phrase, “Faded Splendor,” as I think it describes not only our sanctuary but the state of evangelical witness across the old city of Toronto, from The Beach to High Park, and Lake Ontario to Bloor St.. Where once vibrant congregations met, only a remnant (or a condo!) remains

    I spend a lot of time thinking and praying about the re-evangelization of Toronto, and would appreciate your prayers for our church and our city.

    May the Lord bless you and your family, and please visit us again sometime here at Waverley!

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