Part One: The Traditional Definition and Roles of a Godparent

So here is my preface to this blog post, just like etiquette, the definition and role of a godparent has changed over time. In this blog series on godparents, we will cover it all, but we’d like to start by giving you the traditional origin and responsibility of a godparent. Trust me, we will get to the modern-day take on godparents.

What is a Godparent?

Godparent formally sponsor (from Latin spondere, “to promise”), masculine godfather, feminine godmother, in Christianity, is one who stands in to sponsor a child alongside the parents in a baby dedication or christening. In the modern baptism of an infant or child, the godparent or godparents make a profession of faith for the person being baptized (the godchild) and assume an obligation to serve as proxies for the parents if the parents either are unable or neglect to provide for the religious training of the child, in fulfillment of baptismal promises.

Even when the parents provide their child with a religious upbringing, a godparent serves to encourage the child’s spiritual growth over time and stands as an example of another adult with maturity in the faith. In churches mandating a sponsor, only one godparent is required; two (in most churches, of different sex) are permitted. Many protestant denominations permit but do not require godparents to join the infant’s natural parents as sponsors. In the Roman Catholic Church, godparents must be of the Catholic faith.

What is the Responsibility of a Godparent?

The role of a godparent isn’t just an honor—it’s a big responsibility. Make sure you’re aware of the role and responsibilities when asking someone to serve as a godparent and accepting that role.

Christian Responsibility of a Godparent:

1.    If anything were to ever happen to the parents – god forbid- godparents step in an act as a primary caregiver to the child if designated. FYI- If something tragic happens to the parents the next of kin will serve as guardians unless parents appoint godparents specifically as guardians in their living wills.

2.    Pray for your godchild regularly.

3.    Set an example of Christian living.

4.    Help him/her grow in faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5.    Encourage the child to follow Christ.

So, Courtesy Crew, what are your thoughts on the traditional roles and responsibilities of a Christian godparent? Have we gone astray, or do you think modern-day godparents still withhold the same responsibilities? 

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