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Communion & Confirmation

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General Background

There are strong theological and pastoral reasons to admit baptised members of the church family, and in particular children, to Holy Communion. Theologically this affirms that baptism is a full and complete initiation into the body of Christ and into membership of the church. It also symbolises the fact that the sacrament of communion is given by God through grace and is not earned in any way by good behaviour or by taking a course and receiving a certificate of Confirmation. In pastoral terms, excluding children is an anomaly, if our main worship is a joyous celebration of the Eucharist and if its focal point is the shared communion meal, it seems strange to exclude children from it, who are full members of the church and regular members of the congregation. The Bishop of Edmonton has approved the admission of children who have been baptized to receive Holy Communion. This does not replace Confirmation, but is an acknowledgement that participation in our weekly Eucharist is an important part of our community, and one which we welcome children to participate in. We offering classes for children who regularly attend St Mary’s Church and who are in Years 3 and 4 who would like to receive Holy Communion. These sessions will help children understand what is happening during Holy Communion, and will be an introduction to full Confirmation classes offered when they reach High School.

Policy on Children wishing to be admitted to Holy Communion

Children wishing to be admitted to Holy Communion in the Benefice of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn and St James West Hampstead need to meet the following criteria. Children:

  1. Will have attended church regularly over the past twelve months.
  2. Will be baptised members of the Church, or are willing to be baptised prior to admission.
  3. Attend church on all Sundays during the preparation course (six consecutive Sundays in all).
  4. Participate in service of blessing at the commencement of the course.
  5. Participate in the service of admission at the end of end preparation.
  6. Attend all 5 preparation sessions.
  7. Have an intention to be presented for Confirmation at a later date.

Confirmation

What we now call Confirmation was originally part of a wider ceremony of Christian initiation and only became a separate rite when bishops were no longer able to preside at all baptisms. As a separate rite, Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which the participation in the life of God’s people inaugurated at baptism is confirmed by the bishop by the laying on of hands, and in which those who have been baptised affirm for themselves the faith into which they have been baptised and their intention to live a life of responsible and committed discipleship. Through prayer and the laying on of hands by the confirming bishop, the Church also asks God to give them power through the Holy Spirit to enable them to live in this way. When Confirmation is part of a combined rite including adult baptism it has a slightly different significance. In this case, as in the traditional Western service of initiation mentioned above, the Confirmation element signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit following on from baptism in water. The biblical model for this is Christ’s own baptism in which, the gospels tell us, the Spirit descended on Him when He came up out of the water after having been baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-33).
According to the Canons (laws) of the Church of England those who receive Holy Communion in the Church of England should either have been confirmed in the Church of England or should be ready and desire to be confirmed. It is normal for Confirmation to be followed straight away by Holy Communion, although in cases where Confirmation has not taken place in a candidate’s parish church they may instead take Communion for the first time in that church on the following Sunday.

Children seeking Confirmation

As a Benefice we are now Admitting Children to Holy Communion in Year 3. As a result of this decision Confirmation classes will now only be offered to Young People who are 12 years and older on a yearly basis (from 2009).
We traditionally hold our service of Confirmation, subject to the availability of the Bishop in Advent each year. Young people seeking Confirmation should regularly attend Church, and will need to complete 10 weeks of Confirmation Classes in the lead up their Confirmation. At the service of Confirmation it is a good idea to have your Godparents
present, who have supported your faith journey from Baptism to Confirmation, as well as other significant members of your family.

Adults seeking Confirmation

It is quite common for Adult to also seek to be confirmed in the Church of England. We traditionally hold our service of Confirmation, subject to the availability of the Bishop in Advent each year. Adults seeking Confirmation will need to attend a discipleship course which is held each year in the lead up to the Confirmation.

We hope that you find these notes helpful. If you have any questions or would like to pursue the possibility of admission further then please get in touch.