by the Rev. Virginia Bennett

May 23: Bishop Smith (center) and Fr. Todd (far right) with Grace's 2016 confirmation class following the Diocesan Confirmation Service.

May 23: Bishop Smith (center) and Fr. Todd (far right) with Grace’s 2016 confirmation class following the Diocesan Confirmation Service.

Confirmation is the public affirmation of one’s relationship to this part (Episcopal/Anglican) of Christianity. We are made Christians by baptism, but we publicly affirm our relationship to the Episcopal Church by receiving the laying on of hands by a Bishop.

Sadly, for many years the Episcopal Church required confirmation prior to being able to receive communion and confirmation was a mandatory rite of membership. For generations it was the expectation that children, usually from 12 – 14, would be dutifully made to complete confirmation classes and then be presented to the Bishop to be confirmed; after which they would be allowed to receive communion. The obvious implication was that baptism didn’t count. Confirmation became a kind of graduation — the moment when young people could say they were finished with their Christian education and participation.

And the reality was, and still is sometimes, that many of the young people who were confirmed were there under duress (their parents insisted upon it). Although they could say all the right words, there really wasn’t much commitment; because often times they became inactive after confirmation and disappeared from the life of the church – sometimes forever or until they wanted to get married or had children of their own.

The requirement of confirmation for membership or communion was dropped in the 1970s. The rationale was NOT to make confirmation less important, but to raise its importance all the more. It was to make confirmation a voluntary act on the part of people who genuinely were invested in deepening their relationship with God and the church as God’s instrument.

Everyone has a different reason for making the adult decision to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church. What is certain is that there is only one Someone who brings us to this moment – and that is God. We are all beginners on this road. All of us have doubts and struggles. It is neither necessary nor expected that everyone who is confirmed will know everything about Anglicanism or Christianity before the Bishop lays hands on them. What IS expected is that confirmation is that turn in the road, that adult decision, of seeking to know more; to grow in depth of knowledge and spirituality in terms of this church and one’s relationship with God.

The Greek word believe in the Creeds is unique. It means to jump into with your whole heart and being. The only way we learn to swim is to jump into the pool. It is the same for Christianity. It’s not about being an observer. It is about taking part, with every fiber of our being in answer to God’s call to us.

To be confirmed in the Episcopal Church is to enter one of the most beautiful and unique traditions of Christianity: the Anglican Communion. This church has wondrous gifts to offer; gifts of history, tradition, theology, reason, intelligent thought, forbearance, and love. We are called to respond to these gifts by giving back our love, our own unique gifts, and our support in every way we are able. Pray for this church, for yourself, your loved ones; and enter by the “narrow gate” which Jesus shows to us. Enter into a deeper relationship with God through adult education, service, faithful stewardship, and a deeper commitment to the spiritual life.

In the ancient church the Bishop asked if those about to be confirmed turned to Christ; turning from darkness to light. The turn in the road in Confirmation is about making this turn with deliberate intentionality – so that the light of Christ might shine upon our journey and give us strength through every turn in the road – until God welcomes us home at last.

Adult Confirmation at Grace Church

Bishop Smith will be visiting Grace Church Sunday, October 30.
If you are interested in being confirmed, received or reaffirmed in the Episcopal Church, please leave a reply below and we will contact you.

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