A Perfect Big Apple Baptism

January 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

When we were moving to New York, we knew pretty much nothing about pretty much everything. And it would have been helpful to get some tips on some of the major things on our white-board To-Do list, such as “Baptize the baby.” So here is our very sincere recommendation for a great church our Godmother-to-be found in downtown Manhattan. It’s Episcopal. We’re Russian Orthodox and Protestant and got married in an Anglican church, so we were looking for a place that was welcoming and open and perhaps close to Anglican, which is as far as we’ve experienced close to everything.

We had the baptism at The Church of the Transfiguration – which sweetly dubs itself “The Little Church Around the Corner.” It’s beautiful inside and out (and, in true Manhattan style, set among more modern and tall and industrial buildings – a real Big Apple landscape).

There’s a lovely courtyard in front that I’m sure would be a great mingling or reception place on warmer days (we had the baptism on a frosty November day). Bishop Andrew St. John is one of the warmest, friendliest priests we have met in NYC – and happens to have a great sense of humor and charming Australian accent. A week before the baptism, I met with him to go over the entire service. Services here can be on the longer side (this was the last one before advent so it was one of the longer ones and I think it all lasted about 1.5-2 hours), with baptisms about half-way through. There was another baby being baptized at the same time, though sometimes there can be as many as seven. It all went very smoothly – it helped that we all arrived early with our Godparents in tow so we all knew what to expect and where to walk and what to say in unison.

In case anyone is wondering about special baptism clothes: the whole idea occurred to us 2 days before the event (we’re a spontaneous family). Everything online was a) expensive and b) took a loooong time to get delivered. So we went to Toys R Us in Times square and got Oliver dress pants and a white dress shirt and tiny little black velvet boots and a bow-tie (yes, it was awesome – he looked like a little 007) – and it all cost under $30 – about a quarter of the price of gowns he would never wear again. He wore the outfit again for Christmas and New Year’s, and looked trendy as could be, so we’re happy. Andrew St. John was happy too – he saw no need for special gear.

What to do after the baptism…

…if you don’t feel like dragging baby to a mid-town restaurant? Our party of 15 came back to our apartment and had a very informal party with catered food from Whole Foods at Columbus Square – another experience I can highly recommend. Whole Foods can do no wrong, it seems. Their antipasti and sandwiches and cakes were perfect for the occasion.

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