What is a Godparent or Sponsor?

“Baptism is the sign of new life in Christ.  Baptism unites Christ with his people.  That union is both individual and corporate.  Christians are, it is true, baptized one by one, but to be a Christian is to be part of a new creation which rises from the dark waters of Christ’s death into the dawn of his risen life.  Christians are not just baptized individuals; they are a new humanity.”

(instructions for baptism in the Book of Alternative Services, Anglican Church of Canada).


When a person is baptized, this step of faith is not taken alone; the individual is surrounded by a community. This beloved one will have family and friends present who are supportive of the decision to become a Christian. The members of the church community are also present, for baptisms are not private affairs. They take place in the midst of a worshipping congregation at the main service on a holy Sunday in the Church. Perhaps most importantly, the baptismal candidate will have one or more godparents or sponsors at their side.

An adult makes the vows of baptism for himself or herself. But from the time of Jesus onward, each new Christian was supported and taught by a sponsor both before and after baptism. A sponsor is another baptized Christian who has an established link with the baptized person through family or friendship. This mentoring into the new life in Christ is an integral part of spiritual development.

What about children who are baptized?

The decision to bring a younger person into the fellowship of the body of Christ is a joyful and serious task. A child of Christian parents has the wonderful opportunity to grow into his or her faith in an environment where they can ask questions and be lovingly supported on the faith journey. The responsibility of a child’s sponsor, traditionally called a godparent, is to walk alongside that young person as they grows in understanding the promises that have been made at baptism. That sponsor is also there to be supportive to the child’s parent/s, and in this way share in the moral and emotional development of that young person. 

There is opportunity within Christian liturgy for a young person later to make a public declaration of faith in a rite called Confirmation. This step is not necessary for full membership into the Body of Christ, however.  Each baptized child is welcome in all aspects of faith life, including communion and, later, roles of church leadership.

What does a Sponsor do in the Baptismal Rite?

  1. The sponsor presents the candidate

In the service, the parents (if present) and sponsor(s) will be asked to present the candidate for Holy Baptism. We will be following a service book, where the words are printed:

Response:  I present N [ give first and middle names] to receive the sacrament of baptism.

  1. The sponsor makes promises

For younger candidates, the parents and sponsors will then be asked the following questions:

Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is nurtured in the faith and life of the Christian community?

Response:  I will, with God’s help.

Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow into the full stature of Christ?

Response:  I will, with God’s help.

Then the priest asks the following questions of both the candidates who can speak for themselves and the parents and sponsors who speak on behalf of infants and younger children:

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

Response: I renounce them.

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

Response:  I renounce them.

Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

Response:  I renounce them.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Saviour?

Response:  I do.

Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?

Response:  I do.

Do you promise to obey him as your Lord?

Response:  I do.

  1. The sponsor represents the giving of Light

A lit candle is given to the newly baptized person to signify the light of Christ in their life.  For younger children, the candle will be handed to the sponsor.

This “birthday” candle is to be lit on the anniversary of the baptism each year.  Sponsors might want to bake a cake, or send a birthday card to celebrate the occasion.

      4. Welcoming the Newly Baptized

The sponsor has the opportunity to introduce the newly baptized child or infant to the church community by walking around the church at the passing of the Peace.

What does a Sponsor do after the Baptism?

Your Christian responsibility as a sponsor is threefold:

  1. To pray daily for the person you have sponsored
  2. to set an example of Christian living in your own life and work
  3. to support and help the newly baptized person grow in their faith.

In the baptismal service, you promised to do this “with God’s help”. The most important way that you can support the newly baptized individual is to pay attention to your own spiritual life.  Time in prayer and the reading of scripture, participation in a Christian community, regular corporate worship, and the living out of your own baptismal promises in a life of service and compassion- these are all aspects of the new life in Christ that you can share with your godchild or friend.

It is important to stay in contact. Maybe you can arrange a date to meet on a regular basis or offer to babysit a younger child. You can do it through phone calls, letters, or video calls.  Even sponsors who live a long way away can find creative ways to keep fellowship alive. Something as simple as a birthday card or a small gift to remind the person of baptism will delight the heart of the recipient. For younger children some ideas are bath toys, a cross to hang in their room, a children’s book of Bible stories, or a Noah’s ark.  For an adult, what about a prayer journal or shawl, candles, or a Christian book that you have found helpful on your path?  Or send a poem or a picture, or a line of Scripture.

In agreeing to become a sponsor, you have undertaken a lifelong commitment to encourage and support the faith of a fellow Christian. To ensure that the person you support knows and understands the promises that have been made, you must place the Word of God not only in the hands but the heart. Through your interactions in prayer, conversation, and example, your godchild will experience the love of Christ. What is amazing is the way God will grow your own faith through this process. No matter where you are on your way to the Kingdom, remember that God will walk with you and guide you, and you will be blessed and be a blessing to others.