Pre-Baptismal Rites (Forty-Day Churching)
The Forty-Day Churching Service is a pre-baptismal rite (along with the Prayers of the First Day and Eighth Day) conducted for a newborn infant around forty days following his or her birth. (The exact date is not binding.) During this dedication service, the newborn is introduced into the worshipping community of faith as a peripheral member of the Body of Christ, in one sense becoming a catechumen and beginning his or her preparation for full membership via Baptism and Chrismation. Prayers are also offered for the mother, thanking God for the new life that has come into the world and for preserving the mother during her pregnancy and delivery. If the mother is an Orthodox Christian, she should plan to receive Holy Communion – as should the father (so long as they are Orthodox Christians, of course) – following the service on the same day or on the following Sunday.
Churchings are usually done on Sundays and should preferably be done toward the end of the Liturgy, before the people are dismissed from church. However, they can also be performed after Sunday services or even during the week. Prayers on the First Day of Birth and Eighth Day (naming of the child) may also be offered when the priest visits the new parents in the hospital or when they come to the church for the Forty-Day Service. Contact the parish priest to set up an appointment for the Forty-Day Churching.