Holy Eucharist, Confirmation & Reception
April 16 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
When Bishop John Taylor visits St. Andrew’s on Sunday, April 16, 2023, there will be an opportunity for our teen, young adult, and adult members to seek Confirmation or Reception in the Episcopal Church. Confirmation and Reception are sacramental rites marked by a mature, public affirmation of faith. When and why are these rites celebrated, and who is eligible to participate?
Confirmation has a complicated history. In the early Church, adults converting to Christianity were baptized by a bishop. Baptism was characterized by immersion in water, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. Over time, as more children were born to Christian parents, infant baptism became the norm. Since the local bishop was unable to be present as often as needed, baptism was delegated to parish priests. However, the laying on of hands remained a ritual action reserved to bishops alone, so those baptized by a priest had to present themselves to a bishop at a later time. The sacramental rite of Confirmation emerged out of this development.
In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, we find this introduction to the rite: “…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 in Christ and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop” (BCP 412). Those baptized as children are usually confirmed during adolescence or early adulthood to publicly affirm for themselves the baptismal vows made for them by parents and godparents. If it does not take place then, Confirmation can be celebrated any time after that.
The traditional focus on the Holy Spirit in Confirmation may seem a little confusing: isn’t the Holy Spirit received at baptism? The short answer is, “Yes, and.” In Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s death and resurrection and receive the Holy Spirit, while Confirmation sends us forth into the world in the power of that Spirit to love and serve God and others. Older Episcopalians may remember Confirmation as a requirement before receiving communion, but this was changed in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
Reception refers to the rite by which a baptized Christian, confirmed by a bishop in apostolic succession of a different denomination, is welcomed into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church. It too, is a public affirmation; like those being confirmed, candidates for reception also make a profession of faith and renew the Baptismal Covenant. Since they are already confirmed, the bishop does not lay hands on them. Candidates who have previously been confirmed, but not by a bishop, receive the laying on of hands along with others being confirmed.
Preparation for Confirmation or Reception includes a review of 1) the Apostles’ Creed, 2) the theology of the Baptismal Covenant, and 3) background on the history and current practice of the Episcopal Church. If you or a family member would like to be Confirmed or Received during the Bishop’s visit on April 16, please contact Minerva at firstname.lastname@example.org.