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Full immersion baptism allowed again in church

by Cara Bentley

The Government's guidance for Places of Worship has been updated to include information on how to safely go about a full immersion baptism, where a person is completely submerged under the water, as a sign of their new life in Christ. 

This has led to some churches hosting their first baptisms in five months. 

The guidance now states: "Where full immersion in water is necessary as part of a ritual or ceremony, this should be very carefully planned following the rules below.

"Those being immersed should be at least two metres away from the congregation and officiants at all times, except while they are being immersed.

"Only one person should be immersed at any time and they should only be attended by a single officiant/clergy member."

Life-cycle events are still only allowed 30 people, whereas when a baptism is conducted as part of a service there is no fixed capacity as it is dependent on the building size. 

The guidance adds that "During the immersion, clergy/the officiant can place their hands on the head of the person being immersed, but they should not ‘cradle’ the person or touch them in any other way

"Clergy/the officiant should wash their hands after each person is immersed, or if this isn’t possible they should use hand sanitiser."

In churches that do infant baptism, a parent - not the minister - has to hold the child and people are to stand back to avoid any splashing water. Hands must be sanitised before and after making the sign of the cross on their forehead and its advised that clergy use a cup-like instrument to pour water on their head instead of their hands. 

Read the full Places of Worship guidance here

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