THE Font is a primary sign and symbol in the worship space.
Just as baptism images dying with Christ, so the font images tomb.
Just as baptism images being cleansed, so the font images bath. You can stand up in the pool and have water poured over you.
Use copious water. Baptism in the Anglican church can be done by submersion (fully under the water), immersion (in water, with water poured over you), and pouring. There is no place for minimalist use of water – there is no place for sprinkling, or merely making the sign of the cross with water…
New fonts will always have the possibility of immersion as well as pouring.
Infants can be baptised by immersion and submersion, just as they are in Orthodoxy.
The water can be flowing. Traditional, plumbed fonts can use that piping to pump water (recycled). Such a font can have a slot cut near the top so the water runs into an immersion pond by it.
The place for the font speaks of the understanding of baptism in the community. Do we come via the font to the table? Font and table make the foci of the sacrament of initiation, with the Eucharist as the repeatable part of that sacrament…
Do we have the font within the worship space, in the entrance foyer,…?
Font is carved from massive blocks of granite to form the shape of a nautilus shell. The font accomodates the baptism of both infants and adults with an upper reservoir and lower pool for immersion. Water recirculates from the upper bowl and flows tow different ways into the pool–over a wide lip and gently down a sluice carved into the walls of the font. Source of quote
The font also reminds me of the koru pattern – strong New Zealand symbol of new life.
As we enter, and come past the font, we place our hand in its water and make the sign of the cross on our body reminding ourselves – I am baptised.
Square, circular, octagonal, six-sided, and cross-shaped are amongst the shapes that all have a particular history and meaning. (eg. eight-sided, the eighth day, resurrection, eight on the ark…)
The Easter/Paschal candle stands by the font except during the Easter Season and at funerals when it has a central focus.
In order to prevent any accident – perspex can sit just below the surface of a baptismal pond. There may need to be a way of heating the water. There needs to be plumbing to earth.
Inherited bird-bath fonts, and pudding bowls inserted into stands can be re-used as… bird baths (with a plaque if you like), a sun dial, for flowers… [We would never dream, of course, of putting flowers in a font!]
Discussions about why our communities are not baptising sufficiently are long overdue.
This post is, hopefully, useful for a number of contexts. It is particularly offered as one in a series for reflection as we begin planning the building of a number of church buildings after the closing of dozens of church buildings because of the Canterbury earthquakes.
Can you add some ideas, responses, even further questions to help people’s reflections…
- Architectural Design Guidelines 4
- baptism distracts from Easter?
- church architecture 5
- The Day of Pentecost