Naming and blessing of children
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2010)|
The naming and blessing of a child in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a non-saving ordinance, usually performed during sacrament meeting soon after a child's birth in fulfillment of the commandment in the Doctrine and Covenants: "Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name." The purpose of the practice is twofold: to give a baby an official name and to provide an opportunity to give a blessing for the child's spiritual and physical welfare. This practice is usually only performed for infants, though older children may also receive the blessing, and older converts to the Church do not need a comparable blessing.
To offer the blessing, worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders, often including priesthood leaders, family members and close friends, gather in a circle and hold the child in their arms or place their hands on the child's head if he/she is a little older. One of them, often the child's father, performs the blessing. Typically, this consists of the following:
- Addressing Heavenly Father
- Stating the authority under which the blessing is given
- Giving a name
- Adding a blessing as directed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
The blessing is given under the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood and is closed in the name of Jesus Christ.
After the meeting is concluded, a certificate is provided that details the date of the blessing and who officiated; it is signed by the presiding officer of the ward or branch. A membership record is created for children who receive this blessing and they are counted, not as full members of the Church, but as "children of record." They remain on the Church rolls unless they reach adulthood without being baptized or a request for name removal is processed. They become confirmed members of the Church when they receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, normally soon after their eighth birthday.
It is common for this blessing to be an occasion for family members to gather. In some families, it is also traditional for the baby or older child to be dressed in white clothing similar to a christening gown, but this is not required.
The event is special and as such merits the opportunity to share the moment with friends and family. "Members and local leaders should avoid practices that may detract from the sacred nature of a mission call or create unnecessary expense, such as holding open houses for missionaries [or baby blessings] (except for family gatherings), sending formal printed announcements or invitations, printing special programs, or forming reception lines at the meetinghouse after the sacrament meeting." This type of counsel led to a culture of sharing the moment without extravagance or exchanging of gifts.
- D&C 20:70
- Children and Childhood in American Religions isbn 0813546958 Don S. Browning, Bonnie Miller-McLemore - 2009 "There are several central religious practices pertaining to 1 among them naming and blessing of children, baptism, confirmation ing to the priesthood, missionary service, and temple endowments "
- Melvyn Hammarberg The Mormon Quest for Glory: The Religious World of the Latter-Day Saints... - 2013 - Page 35 "As Susan Buhler Taber (19 93:9—20) has shown, the content of the fast and testimony meeting varies from month to month and individual by individual, but routinely includes ordinances like the naming and blessing of children..."
- Ensign, Nov. 1994, 112[full citation needed]