At All Saints, we give a Baptism Bear to each person who is baptised here. Many thanks to Simon Cutmore for this idea – you can read more about it on his blog. These are lovely hand-knitted bears which are given to children (and adults!) to remind them of their baptism.
But this is something we’ve only started doing recently, so there are lots of children who have been baptised at All Saints before that point and therefore don’t have a Baptism Bear. We have been looking for ways to reconnect with our baptism families, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!
We sent invitations to every child who has been baptised here in the last 5 years, inviting them to come to a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and to bring their families, godparents, and a bear. And what a great response we had! 27 children and 31 adults attended the picnic, and we gave out Baptism Bears to 19 children who were baptised here.
We provided a simple picnic (indoors!) and played some fun games – musical bumps, pin-the-nose-on-the-bear, hide-and-seek, balloon games, etc. We also parachuted bears from the balcony (sadly no photos of that!) which caused a great deal of excitement!
And in among all the fun and laughter and catching up with people we haven’t seen for a while, we renewed the promises made at our baptism. This was a very brief and informal piece of liturgy – we responded to the 4 questions in the baptism liturgy with a loud “I do”, watched as the paschal candle was lit, were liberally sprinkled with holy water, and ended with the Lords Prayer (with actions).
The children who hadn’t previously received a Baptism Bear were presented with one. We also read a bear-themed picture book about love (“The Best Present” by Jane Bingham and Rosalind Beardshaw), briefly linked that to God’s love, and talked a little bit about baptism.
The whole event was very relaxed and informal, and seemed to be enjoyed by children of all ages, and the adults too. We had several conversations with people who would like to start coming to church more regularly, and some who are planning to bring a younger child for baptism.
We will follow up the event with an email to thank people for coming, share photos, and inform them about events coming up for children at All Saints, as well as our regular children’s groups.