Confirmation at St. John's
The Book of Common Prayer says of confirmation that, “In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. Those baptized as adults are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith” (BCP 412).
So the rite of confirmation is indelibly tied to baptism – not the completion of it but an affirmation of the vows made either on behalf of an infant or by an adult. While confirmation doesn’t make a person any more of a Christian, it is a rite of Christian commitment; an important part of living out one’s life in Christ.
St. John’s offers confirmation preparation for adults and teenagers who desire to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ in front of the bishop. Any adult interested in confirmation should make this desire known to the rector. As needed we offer an adult confirmation class entitled “Episcopal 101.” The course includes basic instruction on Anglican church history, the Book of Common Prayer, the sacraments, Scripture, church doctrine, spirituality, and church polity.
Teenage confirmation classes are offered for 9th graders. Classes meet on alternating weeks and the program lasts the full school year. The classes are taught by the clergy of St. John’s and an adult mentor. Confirmation will take place in the spring at a regional location.
It is important to note that participation in this process does not obligate the student to be confirmed. A student may withdraw at any point, or even decide not to be confirmed at the end of a successfully completed program. Part of the process of becoming a mature Christian is being ready to make a commitment to Christ on one’s own.
There are certain expectations for teenagers engaged in the confirmation class. First, since participation is voluntary, a positive outlook and a willingness to engage the faith is the most important expectation. Each student is expected to attend every class. While there may be circumstances where this is not possible, full attendance is the norm.
The role of the parents is vital to this process. First, each parent must support their child in this process while allowing them the freedom to delay or withdraw if they desire. Parental worship life and discussions about faith will also have an indelible effect on the inquiring process of their children. Help them to keep this process a priority in the busy schedule that is part of a student’s school life.
Teenagers or adults who choose not to be confirmed are still considered full participants of this community of faith. While the Episcopal Church assumes that adults will seek confirmation at some point along their faith journey, confirmation is not a requirement for participation in church activities or programs.