“When congregations approach confirmation assuming it has positive, lasting value, and focus on developmentally sound processes to prepare confirmands to make a decision that has real consequences, confirmation matters.”Dr. Lisa Kimball, “Building Base Camps” in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), 134.
Confirmation preparation for adolescents in our Church today needs to be part of a lifelong ecology of formation including all generations in a worshiping community. We need to unpack the language we use in confirmation, such as dropping “becoming an adult member” and instead emphasizing becoming a faithful disciple of Christ. Confirmation should be a time of ministry discernment and learning how to practice baptismal living.
Important components identified for confirmation preparation include:
- the importance of intergenerational and community involvement in confirmation preparation, including (but not limited to) having mentors for confirmands;
- the careful selection (with choice) of mentors that involves accountability and expectations of them given with support and training;
- practices and strategies for helping young Christians grow as disciples of Jesus Christ;
- adult and youth candidates preparing together (the segregation of ages inhibits/under-utilizes discernment);
- all adults in the congregation being invited to participate in formation – helping all to name, tell, and claim their own faith story;
- opportunities for mission and hands-on-service with reflection; and
- the diocese as a symbol of the wider Church and the interconnectedness of the local church within the wider community.
The Confirmation Collaborative convenes critical conversations on the practice of confirmation, commends best practices of confirmation and reaffirmation practices, and builds upon the strengths of the Episcopal Church’s history and lived experiences in order to support Christian formation and discipleship in our Church. We invite formation leaders (lay and clergy), diocesan camp directors, theologians, liturgists, and youth ministers to join us in advocating for and sharing best practices. Contact Sharon Ely Pearson or Lisa Kimball, convenors for more information.
Preparation for Confirmation, Reception or other Reaffirmations of the Baptismal Covenant
Adopted at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the newest version of the Book of Occasional Services 2018 offers a series of rites and steps to prepare baptized Christians to reaffirm their Baptismal Covenant and receive the laying on of hands by the bishop in Confirmation, Reception, or other forms of Reaffirmation of Baptismal vows. The Confirmation Collaborative believes this three-tiered approach is a best practice for the confirmation preparation.
- Concerning Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows (p. 147)
- Welcoming Candidates for Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows (p. 150)
- Rite of Enrollment for Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows (p. 152)