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Author Topic: What all should sponsors do?  (Read 1304 times) Average Rating: 0
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scamandrius
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« on: April 13, 2008, 05:12:58 PM »

I don't know if this has already been addressed (I'd be surprised if it hasn't), but I have been asked to sponsor a young man coming into the Orthodox Church this Pascha.  He will make a fine addition to our congregation and he's just a good guy.  I'm, of course, humbled that he would choose me, of all people.  Still, what all am I required to do?  I know that I need to procure several items such as an icon of his patron saint and a cross.  But what else should I do besides pray for him and answer his questions and stand by him at his chrismation?  What other "rules" or decorum should I follow?  I'd really like to hear from a number of sponsors here on this board.  Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2008, 09:40:31 PM »

I can only speak from the perceptive of someone who has a sponsor. For myself, he has essentially taken me in as apart of his family, and has always been a stable beacon that I can look to whenever I'm having a difficult time. I'm going to miss seeing him while I'm at college, but I know that there will always be a strong connection between us.

Other than what you have mentioned, there are no other "requirements." But in my opinion, the truly important actions occur after chrismation, when real life takes hold again.
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2008, 08:49:33 AM »

Here is an excerpt from the class I teach on Godparents (send me a pm if you want the full class handout):
Baptismal Guidelines [ Adapted from the  guidelines of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America]

The following are guidelines for the Godparents sponsoring a baptism in the Orthodox Church [it should be noted that each tradition/jurisdiction may vary on the specifics and the priest doing the baptism will advise the Godparents of the parish practices]:
Minor Child/Infant
1.   The Sponsor (Godfather or Godmother) must be an Orthodox Christian. If the Sponsor is married, the marriage must have been blessed by an Orthodox priest.
2.   The role of the Sponsor is directly related to infant baptism. Since the infant is unable to make the necessary confession of faith, the Sponsor stands and vouches for it.
3.   The Sponsor should be ready to recite the Nicene Creed. For three consecutive Sundays after the baptism, the Sponsor should carry the neophyte for the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
4.   According to the tradition of the Orthodox church, one name of Orthodox Christian origin should be given to the child at the time of baptism.
5.   The day, time, and other arrangements of the baptism must be made with the priest. Please call the church office to discuss these arrangements at least one month before the baptism.
6.   The Godparent traditionally provides:
A.   A complete change of clothes for the child [traditionally these clothe are white]
B.   One bottle of olive oil
C.   A cross for the child
D.   Three white candles
E.   One of each of the following: bar of soap, hand towel, bath towel, sheet
F.   Martyrika (small pins or ribbons that are given to those who attend a baptism, the word martyrika means "witness")
G.   Bringing Child to Eucharist on day of Baptism and Communing with Him/Her
a.   Necessity of preparing for communion oneself
b.   Bringing Child next three weeks to communion, with baptismal candle in baptismal garment
c.   Godparent gives child bath on 3rd day after baptism (no bath prior to this)
d.   Consistent contact and focus always on spiritual relationship
The Adult or Older child:
1.   The Sponsor (Godfather or Godmother) must be an Orthodox Christian. If the Sponsor is married, the marriage must have been blessed by an Orthodox priest.
2.   The role of the Sponsor is more traditional in relationship to their duty at the baptism/chrismation of an older child/adult. As the catechumen is able to make the necessary confession of faith, the Sponsor becomes a witness who can vouch to the baptism/chrismation being done.
3.   The Sponsor often recites the Nicene Creed with the catechumen. For three consecutive Sundays after the baptism, the Sponsor should go with the neophyte for the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
4.   According to the tradition of the Orthodox church, one name of Orthodox Christian origin should be given to the neophyte  at the time of baptism. [note: if the neophyte already has a Orthodox Christian name there is no need to get a new one, just affirm with the priest that the neophyte will use the name]
5.   The day, time, and other arrangements of the baptism must be made with the priest. Please call the church office to discuss these arrangements at least one month before the baptism.
6.   The Godparent traditionally provides:
a.   A complete change of clothes for the neophyte [for adults and older children this is usually a white blouse or shirt]
b.   One bottle of olive oil
c.   A cross for the newly baptized/chrismated.
d.   Three white candles
e.   One of each of the following: bar of soap, hand towel, bath towel, sheet
f.   Martyrika (small pins or ribbons that are given to those who attend a baptism, the word martyrika means "witness")
g.   Bringing your Godchild to Eucharist on day of Baptism and Communing with Him/Her
i.   Necessity of preparing for communion oneself
ii.   Bringing your Godchild over the next three weeks to communion, with baptismal candle in baptismal garment
iii.   Consistent contact and focus always on spiritual relationship

Responsibilities of the Godparent
The Responsibilities of the Godparent only begin at baptism, the role really expands and hopefully blossoms as the Godparent and Godchild develop a close and loving relationship. As with any relationship, this spiritual one needs to be fostered and cared for in order for it to develop. The best way for this relationship to grow is through prayer. Pray for your Godchild [ if a minor child pray also for his or her parents], and the parents should encourage their child to pray for the Godparents. Just a minor Godchildren pray for the Godparents likewise the adult Godchild should regularly pray for their Godparents. By doing this you are encouraging a relationship and giving it the spiritual basis on which to mature.

Here are some practical ideas offered by the Orthodox Church In America website (http://www.oca.org) and Fr. Timothy Sawchak of SS. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Lakewood, Ohio:
1.   Celebrate the anniversary of the baptism with a card or a telephone call. Along with learning about your Godchild's patron saint, learn about the saint whose feast day is celebrated on the date of his or her baptism and share the story of that saint's life with your Godchild.
2.   Model your faith through your actions. Understand the sacraments as well as the teachings of the church so that you will be able to answer questions that your Godchild may have.
3.   Encourage the faith life through the types of gifts that you give your Godchild. Some examples of gifts are a bible, prayer book, books on the lives of saints, prayer rope, etc. By doing this you are giving tools to help your Godchild grow in the faith, and are helping him/her to start a personal library of Orthodox teachings.
4.   If you live in close proximity to your Godchild make yourself available to spend time with him or her.
a.   For minor Godchildren: Find out when school activities and sports events are scheduled and try to go to a few. Plan a special time, whether for lunch or a trip to the zoo, to be with your Godchild. These times together will only help to make your relationship closer.
b.   For adult Godchildren: Encourage your Godchild to become active in the life of the Church.  Go with them to men or women’s auxiliary meetings.,  adult classes, or retreats. These spiritual activities can cement your spiritual relationship and strengthen your Godchild as they mature and grow in the faith.
5.   If you live far away, call, write, or e-mail your Godchild. Send a letter at the beginning of a church season (Advent, Lent, etc.) to let him or her know that you will be praying for him. If possible, occasionally plan visits to see your Godchild.
6.   From the moment of Baptism, your Godchild deserves a very special place in your prayers, for on the day of judgment you will be asked about your Godchild's soul.2
7.   A faithful Godparent will be a friend in Christ and maintain close contact with his Godchild. The focus at all times is to progress the child in the knowledge and practice of the Orthodox Faith. The Godparent should at all times model a Christ-like example. The relationship between the Godparent and the baptized is so important and so close that the Church forbids marriage between the Godparent and Godchild.
8.   Pray through the ups and downs of life with your Godchild. Find out what's troubling or challenging your Godchild, what he or she is excited about or eagerly anticipating, then do your best to talk about God in that context. Encourage your Godchild to pray, pray together, and let your godchild know that you are praying for him or her every day.
9.   Make a big deal of your godchild's names day. Celebrate with a special visit and dinner if you're nearby, and give a "spiritually oriented" gift to celebrate, like an age-appropriate book of his patron saint's life, a new icon, etc.
10.   For minor Godchildren emphasize the spiritual aspects of holidays. Make it a tradition to read the stories of the Nativity and Pascha morning with your Godchildren, and help his or her parents downplay the material and commercial aspects (Santa, the Easter Bunny, loads of loot in pretty wrapping). Play up the feasts of the Church instead - by bringing candles to be blessed at the Feast of the Presentation and flowers at the Dormition of the Theotokos and sharing them with your godchild, or by baking a birthday cake for the Nativity of the Theotokos, Jesus, or St. John the Baptist.
11.   Invite your Godchild to go with you to Great Vespers, Matins, or weekday services for the feasts if you live close by. Encourage your whole "God-family" to come to Church for services other than the Sunday/resurrectional Divine Liturgy, if they don't do so regularly.
12.   Ask what your Godchild is learning in Church school… Discuss the lesson of the week, and offer to help with Church school homework, prepare for oratorical competition or catechism bowl, etc. Buy your godchild's first Bible, and update it regularly as his or her reading level increases. Encourage him or her to study the gospel!
13.   Help your Godchild serve God. Choose a service project to work at regularly together, such as working at a hot-meal program or visiting parishioners in the hospital. Help him or her discover new ways to use God-given talents to help others - the artistic might design posters or programs for retreats, the musical might record Church music for shut-ins, etc. Encourage your Godsons to serve in the altar, too, and "cheer them on" each week.
14.   Encourage both boys and girls to attend seminary, and explore the monastic lifestyle, if they show interest. Mention the priesthood as a "career choice" to your Godsons, and help them learn more about what our Orthodox clergy do - and how important their calling to guide others in the Faith is to all of us!
15.   Make your Godchild "one of the family". Include your Godchild,[and with Godchildren who are minors, his or her parents and siblings] in your own family's "social" events: reunions, picnics, camping trips, and zoo and museum outings.
16.   Spend time together. Keep in touch by phone, e-mail, or postcard if your Godchildren are out of state or across the globe. Prayer and love in Christ know no distance!

Thomas
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 08:51:46 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2008, 10:01:17 AM »

Wow, excellent info, Thomas!  Thanks!
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scamandrius
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2008, 05:08:20 PM »

Thomas,

Wow.  thanks for the exhaustive list.  It helps immsensely.
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