A Gaggle of Godparents


Detail from the ‘Baptism Window’ at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, created by Len R Howard

Is the role of godparent archaic, pointless, essential, a lottery, fabulous, or just what you make it?

Our baby, SBJ, has four godparents: two in New Zealand and two in the United Kingdom. Lucky boy!

I didn’t grow up in a tradition that appointed godparents, and though my husband did, it’s not very common in our circles now. But we were keen to formalise these relationships for our family, going on the theory that the more people have a stake in SBJ’s growth and wellbeing, the better!

There was a sociology study mentioned in a youth work text, The Invisible Table by Lloyd Martin, that said the crucial difference between resilient and ‘at risk’ kids was the presence in their lives of six adults who ‘thought the world of them’. (My copy of the book’s in storage or I’d cite the study, sorry.)

When we recruited these four exceptionally wonderful people for SBJ, we were clearer about what the job didn’t include than what it did.

His godparents don’t have to remember his birthday (a requirement which would be awfully hypocritical, given our my own godparenting record) and they aren’t in our wills as his guardians if something happens to us.

What we want is for them to think the world of him.

Here are the words we later asked them to promise to us, SBJ, the church and God:

The church receives this child with joy. Today we are trusting God for his growth in faith. Will you pray for him, draw him by your example into the community of faith and walk with him in the way of Christ?

With the help of God, we will.

I’m keen to hear your experiences and opinions on the topic of godparents.

Do any of you or your kids have godparents? Are you godparents yourselves? How do you see the role of godparenting? How have the theory and the reality matched up?

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0 comments on “A Gaggle of Godparents”

  1. Rochelle Reply

    Like you, our kids have a gaggle of God-peoples – 6 for C and 5 for T (to be fair, these compose of two ‘families’ for each). And like you, we want our girls to have big people who love them and love God in their lives. We have deliberately chosen people we know will pray for and with them; and of whom they can ask their tricky questions (no pressure ;)).

    We don’t have any family in town and so although not all of our kids’ God-people are in town, lots are and we love that they’re part of our ‘family’.

    So no, our God-peeps aren’t required to remember birthdays or assume guardianship either… but we are pretty keen for them to pray!


  2. Caroline Reply

    Our children have godparents who are also aunts & uncles, so I’m not really sure how much it adds to be a godparent too – they already “think the world of them”. While their godparents are great, there are other friends who I would have loved my daughters to have had as godparents, but they are not religious (we seem to know very few practising Christians). They would have added lots to their spiritual well-being, but could not stand up in church and be called “god”parents – it’s a shame there’s no non-religious equivalent as that sort of special relationship can be really helpful in a child’s life. SBJ is very lucky to have all of his international godparents!

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