I am sure that God says yes to people and we should mirror that love (and then work out the implications later).
For sometime now I have been struggling with the benefice baptism policy because I have been saying no. I am hearing too many, ‘the vicar won’t baptise my child’ grumbles. I still firmly believe that if a child is being brought for baptism there should be a local faith community that will embrace and encourage that child. Parents make some serious promises to God that with his help they will belong to a worshipping community. I sort of hope that they will go to church where they are living. If someone comes asking us to baptise their child but they live outside our parishes we send them quite rightly to their local vicar.
But, there is very little affordable housing in our villages so youngsters that have been brought up here are forced to go to the neighbouring towns to find somewhere else to live. However, they still think of the village church as their church (even if they have hardly ever stuck their foot in the door). If they were part of the worshipping community here, there would be no problem but I know with the best will in the world a couple with a young baby are not going to travel 10 miles for a 9.30am service. Where is the community that will nurture that child?
I still think that the local vicar should know that we are baptising a child that lives on his or her patch but I am beginning to wonder whether we should be applying a sort of qualifying connection like we do for marriages.
I think it is quite brave to ring up the vicar. The first thing couples should hear is YES because I know that God doesn’t turn anyone away.