Baptisms, Christenings, and Dedications – The Differences

Vicki’s note – I shortened, and corrected typos, on article by Julie Heifner from her website 


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

Thank You for visiting Babies and Brides! – … 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?…, if you re-post this information, we require you give credit to the author and a link back to our site.

The Baptismal, Christening and Dedication ceremonies which are performed in various churches and denominations around the world, vary in length, formality and inclusions. …

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 Assembly of God churches, instead of an infant baptism. These churches do believe in performing water baptisms, but subscribe to the doctrine 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…

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…

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 known 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…

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 religious 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 publicly 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!…

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 dictionary’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 interchangeably use the word “Christening” to refer to the very formal “Catholic Rite of Baptism” which is one of the Seven Sacraments…

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.



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