In the Church of England, an alternative to Christenings was introduced in 1999. The Thanksgiving ceremony is a a way of formally giving thanks to God for the gift of the child without committing the child to Christianity or the Church.
Holding a Thanksgiving ceremony for your child does not exclude them from being able to be Baptised later in life. In fact, many parents are opting for a Thanksgiving ceremony instead of a Baptism so the child can decide for themselves when they are older if they would like to become a Christian and a full member of the church.
Likewise, Thanksgiving ceremonies are perfect for families who aren’t very religious or who don’t attend church regularly. These ceremonies incorporate all of the ideas of a regular Baptism, but without the commitment to dedicate the child to the church and to bring them up within the arms of the church. The ceremony allows more people to give thanks for the child without being members of the church.
Like a Christening, a Thanksgiving ceremony can be done privately or as part of a regular Sunday service. Also like a Christening, a Thanksgiving ceremony pays tribute to God and His role in bringing the child into the lives of the family. Both friends and family of all religions may attend a Thanksgiving ceremony, and like a Christening, the ritual is usually followed by a large reception to celebrate.
Thanksgiving ceremonies are gaining popularity as more and more parents realize the need to let their children decide their futures and religious preferences when they are of age. Thanksgiving ceremonies allow a broader range of people to seek the assistance of the Church of England in thanking God for the miracle of life they He has granted them. As younger generations come of age and have children of their own, Thanksgiving ceremonies are becoming more and more popular, even outside of England.