Last Wednesday, October 23, 3-month-old Prince George was baptized at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace in London. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby performed the ceremony as invited guests—including the baby's great-grandparents, 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and 92-year-old Prince Philip—looked on.
Welby saw the occasion as a teachable moment and posted a video on his personal website. Welby hopes Prince George's baptism will inspire more people to be baptized. Baptism is not just for royal babies, said Welby. "God's love is offered without qualification, without price, without cost, to all people, in all circumstances, always," he said.
More than 2,000 baptisms take place each week in the Church of England. Two-thirds are for babies under age 1, but a growing number of toddlers and older children are also baptized. However, in the last 60 years, baptisms in the Church of England have been declining.
The Church of England isn't alone in seeing decline. The Southern Baptism Convention recently reported that baptisms have declined six out of the last eight years, and 2012 saw its second-worst total in 60 years.
Baby George was baptized with water from the Jordan River, where it is believed that Jesus was baptized. Though water supposedly taken from the Jordan River can easily be purchased online at eBay and Amazon, people can't just go buy some and ask an Anglican priest to use it in a baptism ceremony. "It must be a royal thing," said Neva Rae Fox, a spokeswoman for The Episcopal Church and a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Church of England baptisms usually involve regular water blessed by a priest.
Meanwhile, every year Christians ...