The Salvation Army has a very special ceremony for children.
Family and friends gather for this important ceremony. Thanks is given to God for the new life. Parents promise to care for their child and give them protection from harmful things as far as possible. An officer holds the child and asks God in prayer to bless the child and guide the family. People in the congregation are asked to encourage the child as he grows. One important difference between the dedication service and a christening or baptism is that it is the parents themselves, and not godparents or other sponsors, who make the promises. The parents publicly agree that they want their child to love and serve God and they promise to provide a Christian upbringing, free from all harmful influences.
The Dedication Certificate will typically hold the following information:
Corps at which the child is dedicated
Full name of the child
Date of dedication
Date and place of birth
Signature & rank of offier
What is the Army's dedication service like?
You don't have to be a Salvationist to have a child dedicated in an Army ceremony, nor does it involve the child automatically becoming a Salvationist when older. But it is important that parents sincerely want to keep the promises they have made to God rather than regard the ceremony merely as a social custom. For parents who prefer, there is a simple ceremony of thanksgiving for the birth of their child in which they are not asked to make any specific promises about a Christian upbringing.
In the dedication service parents thank God for the gift of their child and promise to provide a Christian upbringing. Additionally, Salvationist parents promise to bring up the child in a Salvationist lifestyle.
One important difference between the dedication service and a christening or baptism is that it is the parents themselves, and not godparents or other sponsors, who make the promises. The parents publicly agree that they want their child to love and serve God and they promise to provide a Christian upbringing, free from all harmful influences.
Another difference is that the ceremony does not automatically make the child a Christian or a Salvationist - those are choices that each person must make for themself when old enough to understand what they mean and what is required. But if parents conscientiously keep the promises they make at the dedication, the child will learn about the Christian life while still young and this will make them better able to understand the later choice of whether to be a Christian or not.
During the ceremony, which takes place in an Army meeting, the child is brought to the platform by the parents. Usually the child is still a baby, though there is nothing to prevent older children from being dedicated.
The officer conducting the ceremony reminds the parents of the promises they are making and they agree to keep them. The officer then takes the child in his or her arms and, with the congregation standing to signify its interest and support, prays for the child by its full name.
After the prayer, the child is given back to the parents. A dedication certificate is presented and the dedication register is signed. Whether it is a dedication or a thanksgiving ceremony, if the parents wish the child may be enrolled as a member of the cradle roll, which is a link with the Army for under-fives.