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England considers dropping language of sin and devil from baptism service

Posted on: January 8, 2014 2:32 PM
Detail from the “Baptism Window” at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee, created by Len R. Howard
Photo Credit: WikiMedia/Gary Bridgman
Related Categories: baptism, England

[The Tablet] The Church of England is trialling a new version of its baptism service, in which parents and godparents are no longer asked to "repent of sins" and "reject the Devil".

The new wording – which is being piloted in more than 400 parishes until April – was devised in response to requests to couch the ceremony "in culturally appropriate and accessible language".

Anglican baptisms are recognised by the Catholic Church, and vice versa.

In the current version of the CofE service, which dates back to 1998, the vicar asks: "Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?". The candidate, or parents and godparents acting on his or her behalf, reply: "I reject them."

Parents and godparents are then asked: "Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?", to which the reply is: "I repent of them."

Instead of this formula, reference to the devil or sin is dropped and parents and godparents are instead asked to "reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises".

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Editor’s note: read the Church of England’s clarification on the trial at