There is a connection between theology and records. When people ask me what a christening record is, I understand they either are not churched in theology, or they were raised in a church which practices believer’s baptism only.
Each church varies on its theology, and these differences are also reflected in the records. For example, a Roman Catholic child is usually christened within a few days of birth by a sprinkling of water over the head. A Methodist could receive baptism at any age by sprinkling, pouring or full immersion. A Baptist would only baptize in a believer’s baptism upon a profession of faith by full immersion. Quakers (Society of Friends) would not baptize at all, and Mormons practice baptism for the living and on behalf of the dead. All practices create records.
These theological differences are further reflected in the records through church transfers, and who is allowed to partake of communion. When a person switches church membership, does an infant baptism transfer over to a believer’s baptism church? How are visitors screened for a communion service? Does a church practice open or closed communion? Again, it all reflected in the records.
Church discipline is another matter for the records. Some church minutes provide all the gory details, while others are vague at best. I’ve read Presbyterian session minutes involving discipline which made me want to go wash my eyes in the sink!
In your research, don’t hesitate to purchase a good “systematic theology” book. A non-genealogical source such as this can go a long way in helping you understand what you are seeing in the records.
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