Church calls the roll on baptisms

Holding the babies, Rev Ron Forster from St George's URC in Morpeth with Daniel and Ellen who were both baptised in the church. They are appealing for people  who were baptised there to come to a special service which marks the church's 150th anniversary.
Holding the babies, Rev Ron Forster from St George's URC in Morpeth with Daniel and Ellen who were both baptised in the church. They are appealing for people who were baptised there to come to a special service which marks the church's 150th anniversary.

A YEAR-long birthday party will continue at a Morpeth church on Sunday with a celebration of baptism.

St George’s United Reformed Church is marking its 150th anniversary in its Bridge Street building this year and a range of events are lined up.

Next in the series is a special service this weekend to remember all those who have been baptised in the church.

Anyone who has been baptised there is invited to attend, which could make quite a crowd as the baptism roll book, which dates back to 1879, details 1,434 baptisms, of which 528 have been in the last 50 years.

One of those attending will be a parishioner who has seen her eight children, 21 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren baptised there.

And Catherine Martin, who was the last person to be baptised in the Dacre Street church, which was used when St George’s was being refurbished in the 1960s, will be there, along with one of the church’s newest members, her eight-month-old daughter Ellen.

Cradle Roll Secretary Sue Elliott will be a familiar face to many of the congregation after 20 years in her post.

Along with the Rev Ron Forster, she talks to families before baptism and during the service she is at hand to guide them through.

She leads informal cradle roll services four times a year — Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Harvest — with singing, stories and refreshments, and even on the Sunday before Christmas when the weather was atrocious and Morpeth was grid-locked, families still made it to the event.

Mrs Elliott is also responsible for updating the historic baptism roll, which gives a fascinating insight into local history and will be on display on Sunday.

She said: “This is the best job in the church, I love it. I do other things and sometimes people say I do too much, but this would be the last thing I would give up.”

Each baptism at St George’s has the personal touch and all babies are given a candle, certificate and a Northumbrian tartan scarf as a sign of God’s love and care. When the now four-month-old Daniel Vermaas was baptised in January, the Rev Forster acknowledged his Dutch ancestry by placing an orange duck by the font.

He said: “Baptism is a great family celebration, with the young and old getting together, so it will be nice to celebrate it as part of our 150th anniversary.”

The service will take place at 10.30am.