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Royal christening comes despite drop in baptisms

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 11:53 a.m. MDT

Britain's Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge with their son Prince George arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace in London, for the christening of the three month-old Prince George on Oct. 23. (John Stillwell, Associated Press) Britain's Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge with their son Prince George arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace in London, for the christening of the three month-old Prince George on Oct. 23. (John Stillwell, Associated Press)

Baptisms, which have been on the decline, might be making a comeback after Tuesday's royal christening.

Prince William and Kate Middleton baptised their son, and future monarch of England, Prince George yesterday in a private ceremony with the royal family, according to the Associated Press.

The 3-month-old future monarch was christened with “water from the River Jordan at a rare four-generation gathering of the royal family in London,” reported the AP.

Prince George was dressed in a replica lace and satin christening gown made for Queen Victoria’s daughter, which was used in 1841, the AP reported.

“He arrived at the chapel in his father's arms with his mother by their side, and appeared to wave at his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, although it was really a case of William moving his son's hand up and down,” according to the AP.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks with Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge as they arrive with their son Prince George at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace on Oct. 23. Britain's 3-month-old future monarch Prince George was christened Wednesday with water from the River Jordan at a rare four-generation gathering of the royal family in London. (John Stillwell, Associated Press) Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks with Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge as they arrive with their son Prince George at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace on Oct. 23. Britain's 3-month-old future monarch Prince George was christened Wednesday with water from the River Jordan at a rare four-generation gathering of the royal family in London. (John Stillwell, Associated Press)

The baptism was “low key and intimate,” The Christian Science Monitor reported. William and Kate kept the proceedings “normal,” the Monitor said.

Seven people were asked to be George’s godparents. The Queen and her husband Prince Phillip also attended, “along with Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, Prince Harry and other royals. Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton and her sister Pippa and brother James were also there,” according to the AP.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby talked about the baptism in a YouTube video on Tuesday, and explained why it is an important moment in a person’s life.

“God’s love is offered without qualification, without price, without cost, to all people, in all circumstances, always,” he said in the video.

This comes despite baptism rates sliding in recent years.

In this July 23 photo, Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, hold the Prince of Cambridge, as they pose for photographers outside St. Mary's Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave birth on July 22. Prince William has described his joy at introducing newborn son to the world on the steps of a London hospital and his nerves about fitting the car seat securely into the Land Rover before driving off. (Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press) In this July 23 photo, Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, hold the Prince of Cambridge, as they pose for photographers outside St. Mary's Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave birth on July 22. Prince William has described his joy at introducing newborn son to the world on the steps of a London hospital and his nerves about fitting the car seat securely into the Land Rover before driving off. (Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press)

The overall number of baptisms of people of all ages in the Church of England has dropped from 266,000 in 1980 to 140,000 in 2011, according to the BBC. Among infants, about 30 percent were baptized in 1980 and about 10 percent were baptised in 2011.

The Religion News Service reported the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee “tallied 314,959 baptisms in 2012 — a low not seen since 1948.”

The drop is being associated with a rise in secularism, more interfaith marriages, fewer marriages officiated by clergy members and misunderstandings in the church, RNS reported.

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, told RNS the SBC had 6 million members in 1948, but now has about 16 million members, which makes the drop a concern for his group.

“It’s a sad situation,” he said.

In this July 23 file photo, Britain's Prince William carries his son, George Alexander Louis, who was born the previous day, into public view for the first time outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London. Palace officials said the third in line to the throne will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. (John Stillwell, Associated Press) In this July 23 file photo, Britain's Prince William carries his son, George Alexander Louis, who was born the previous day, into public view for the first time outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London. Palace officials said the third in line to the throne will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. (John Stillwell, Associated Press)

But Rainer said he’s found the youth are beginning to take interest in religion, despite what some studies suggest. He did say, though, he is an optimist.

“So it all might turn around,” he said. “I’m standing on prayerful hope.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com Twitter: @hscribner

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