Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

In these pages we hope we've answered all the questions you may have. Please talk to your local parish priest for any more information on confirmation.

Q. What is the right age for confirmation?

Q. How can I tell if I am ready for confirmation?

Q. Can I receive communion without being confirmed?

Q. I was baptized as a child, why do I need to be confirmed?

Q.  I'm not a regular churchgoer. Can I still be confirmed?

Q. Why does the Church of England baptize babies and children rather than adults as in some other denominations?

Q. What if I wasn't baptized as a child?

Q. What does it cost?

Q. What happens during confirmation classes?

Q. Do I have to wait for a group of people wanting to be confirmed?

Q. What happens after confirmation?

Q. Can I be baptized or confirmed again?

Q. What if I worship at a Local Ecumenical Partnership?

Q. What if I was baptised or confirmed in another denomination?

Q. Do I need to be confirmed to work for the Church of England?

Q. What's the difference between the Common Worship and Book of Common Prayer Service?

Q. What is the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith?

 

Q. What is the right age for confirmation?

There is no right age for a person to be confirmed. Anyone may be confirmed who has been baptized, if they are old enough to answer responsibly for themselves. In many dioceses, however, the diocesan bishop has set a minimum age for Confirmation. If this is the case your parish priest will be able to tell you what the minimum age is. As a general rule anyone who is over 10 years old and can answer for themselves could be ready for confirmation but the right time for you might be at any age.

Q. How can I tell if I am ready for confirmation?

A. Young people mature in their faith in different ways and at different ages. It is important that you come to Confirmation with firm personal conviction that it is right for you at this point in your life. You should pray about this and ask others in your church to pray for you. You should talk to your vicar and even if you are unsure about being confirmed you may wish to participate in the confirmation course to explore your faith further as you think about it.

Q.Can I receive communion without being confirmed?

Confirmation is about so much more than receiving the bread and wine. Anyone in preparation for the confirmation can receive communion as part of that preparation. In some dioceses children are admitted to Holy Communion when they reach an age at which they can understand the meaning of the Eucharist or Holy Communion (to the extent as any of us ever can understand it). This means that some young people will come to confirmation having been participating in Holy Communion while others will receive their first Communion after Confirmation.

Q. I was baptized as a child, why do I need to be confirmed?

If you were baptized as a child, in confirmation, you are confirming the promises your parents made on your behalf at your baptism about your commitment to a journey of faith. In confirming this faith you are becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. In turn the Church will promise to support and pray for you.

In confirmation we recall the promises made at baptism, we are thanking God for his gift of life and publicly acknowledging his love. We are acknowledging that we all need to turn away from selfishness and evil and to accept God's offer of a new start.

Q. I'm not a regular churchgoer. Can I still be confirmed?

A. Confirmation is about becoming a committed member of the local and worldwide Christian family. If you would like to make this commitment we recommend you visit your local church and discuss this with your local vicar. Details of your local church may be found at www.achurchnearyou.com

Q. Why Does the Church of England baptize babies and children rather than adults as in some other denominations?

The Church of England baptises children and adults. Usually adults seeking baptism are encouraged to explore a combined baptism and confirmation.

There are four reasons why the Church of England, unlike some other Christian traditions, has retained the practice of infant baptism.

  • First, infant baptism is a practice that goes back to the very earliest days of the Church and is therefore something that the Church of England does not feel free to discard.
  • Secondly, the Church of England believes that God's merciful love, what Christians call God's 'grace', always precedes our human response and enables it. Personal confession of faith following on from and responding to the grace of God received in infant baptism is consistent with this fact.
  • Thirdly, we read in the gospels that Christ welcomed and blessed those infants that were brought to Him (Mark 10:13-15) and the Church of England believes that infant baptism is a way He continues to do this today.
  • Fourthly, the Bible as a whole tells us that the children of believers are themselves part of God's family and therefore The Church of England feels that it is right that they should have the sign of belonging to the family just as Jewish boys in the Old Testament had the sign of circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14, Acts 2:39, 16:31, 1 Corinthians 7:14).

 

Q. What happens after confirmation?

A. If you were prepared for confirmation with other candidates, your group may wish to continue journeying in faith together after Confirmation.

You might consider the course Get a Life amongst others as a resource for this. If you were prepared as an individual you might ask your vicar or whoever prepared you about house groups at your church or you may wish to explore Spiritual Direction.

Q. What if I wasn't baptized as a child?

If you were not baptized as a child and want to make a commitment of faith, you might consider adult baptism or you can be baptized and confirmed in the same service or baptized shortly before your confirmation. You should discuss this with your vicar.

Q. What does it cost?

A. A confirmation service is free, though there may be a small charge for a certificate. Ask your parish priest.

Q. What happens during confirmation classes?

A. The purpose of confirmation preparation is to ensure that those who are confirmed have a proper understanding of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ within the life of the Church of England. In The Book of Common Prayer it is envisaged that this preparation will take the form of learning by heart the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and The Book of Common Prayer Catechism.

Today preparation focuses less on learning by rote and more on enabling young people to live a life of committed discipleship in a world of multimedia and globalised culture. Sessions encourage candidates to grow in their Christian faith through prayer, reflection, studying the Bible, participating actively in the life of the church and demonstrating their faith in their communities.

Q. Do I have to wait for a group of people wanting to be confirmed?

A. An individual church or group of churches will sometimes have a large group of young people wishing to be confirmed and sometimes a much smaller group of even one or two. This should not be a bar to preparing these young people for confirmation.

Q. Can I be baptized or confirmed again?

You can only be baptized or confirmed once in the Church of England, but there are ways of renewing your Christian commitment publicly as an adult. One of these is the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith - your priest will be able to advise you.

Q. What if I worship at a Local Ecumenical Partnership?

As far as the Church of England is concerned, joint Confirmation means the holding of a service of Confirmation of the Church of England together with that of one or more other churches which practice Confirmation and accept the Anglican rite. These will normally be the Methodist, United Reformed, Moravian or Lutheran churches. Joint Confirmation with the Roman Catholic Church is not permitted by its Canons.

In a joint Confirmation the confirming minister from the Church of England is always a bishop. In the case of the other churches it is the appropriate minister in terms of their practice. Those who are confirmed in this way are confirmed both in the Church of England and in the other churches involved.

Joint confirmation is a practice which takes place in many, but not all, dioceses of holding joint services of Confirmation in which candidates from Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs) are confirmed by ministers of the different churches to which the LEPs concerned belong.

The reason for this practice is that since candidates for Confirmation who belong to a single Christian church are confirmed within that tradition by an appropriate minister from that tradition, it is therefore right that candidates for Confirmation who identify with more than one church because of their having come to faith in an LEP should be jointly confirmed within all the churches concerned by the appropriate ministers from those churches.

In addition, joint Confirmation also expresses the joint or shared oversight of the LEP by the appropriate ministers of these churches. It is a sign that all the churches involved accept their responsibility for pastoral oversight of that LEP.

 

Q. What if I was baptised or confirmed in another denomination?

Those who have been confirmed in a church whose ministerial orders are recognised and accepted by the Church of England and in which confirmation is performed by a bishop, or by a priest acting on the bishop's behalf and using chrism blessed by the bishop, do not need to be confirmed. They are simply received into the Church of England instead. This is a simpler service than communion which may be led by the Bishop or the parish priest, saying

 

You are here to be received into the communion of the Church of England.


Do you acknowledge the Church of England as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church?
I do.


Do you accept the teaching, discipline and authority of the Church of England?
I do.


Will you take part with us in worship and mission?
I will.

The president takes the hand of each person to be received, saying

(Name), we recognize you as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church; and we receive you into the communion of the Church of England
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

( Read the text)

However the Canons lay down that Christians from churches in which confirmation is not performed by a bishop need to be confirmed by a bishop if they wish formally to be admitted into the Church of England.

Q. Do I need to be confirmed to work for the Church of England?

The Canons lay down that those who wish to exercise certain leadership roles in the Church of England, including ordained ministers, readers and licensed lay workers need to be confirmed as a sign of their commitment to living as disciples of Christ as the Church of England understands it

Q. What's the difference between the Common Worship and Book of Common Prayer Service?

A. The Book of Common Prayer confirmation rite is brief. It consists of:

  • A declaration by the candidates that they renew the 'solemn promise and vow' made on their behalf at their baptisms.  A prayer by the people led by the bishop asking that God will strengthen those who are confirmed with the Holy Spirit and that they will be given the sevenfold gifts of God's grace mentioned in Isaiah 11:2.
  • The laying on of hands by the bishop with the words: 'Defend. O Lord this thy child [or this thy servant] with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit, more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.'
  • Prayers led by the bishop which ask that God's Fatherly hand will be over the candidates, that His Holy Spirit will ever be with them and that they will be led by God to attain everlasting life.

Although the basic elements of the rite remain the same, The Common Worship Confirmation rite is longer and contains a number of additional elements:

It begins with the bishop asking the candidates to state whether they are ready to be baptised or have been baptised already and whether they are willing to affirm their faith in Jesus Christ. At this point candidates may be invited to give their testimony - a brief statement about how God has brought them to this point in their lives.

The bishop then asks the candidates to repeat the renunciation of the devil and all that is evil and the declaration of turning to Christ from the baptism service.

If there are any candidates who have not been baptised they are next baptised by the bishop. After this has taken place all the candidates join with the bishop and the rest of the congregation in reciting the Apostles' Creed as an expression of the Christian faith into which they were baptised and which they are now affirming for themselves. They may then be signed or sprinkled with water as a reminder of their baptism and of their need to remain faithful to the commitment to God that their baptism involved.

Using words based on Isaiah 11:2, the bishop leads the people in praying for the Holy Spirit to rest upon those being confirmed and following this confirmation prayer the bishop addresses each candidate by name and says:

'[Name] God has called you by name and made you his own.'

The bishop then lays his hand on the head of each candidate, saying

'Confirm, O Lord, your servant [Name] with your Holy Spirit.'

Each candidate replies Amen.

When all have been confirmed in this way, the bishop invites the congregation to join with him in praying:

'Defend, O Lord, these your servants with your heavenly grace,

that they may continue yours for ever,

and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more

until they come to your everlasting kingdom. Amen.'

The bishop may then use words of commissioning in which the candidates are able to express their determination, with the help of God, to live a life of Christian discipleship and the candidates may also be anointed with oil as an additional sign of their anointing by the Holy Spirit.

The texts of the Confirmation services are available on this website.

The Book of Common Prayer

Common Worship

 

Q. What is the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith?

There is a new rite contained in the Common Worship initiation services called the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. It is intended for people for have been baptised and confirmed and who want a formal way of marking either that they have returned to the practice of the Christian faith or that their faith has become meaningful to them in a new way.

Affirmation of Baptismal Faith is preceded by preparation. If it takes place in the context of a confirmation service it is presided over by the bishop. When this is not the case a parish priest may preside. The affirmation consists of the following elements:

  • A declaration that those involved have been baptised and wish to renew their faith.
  • The renunciation of the devil and all that is evil and declaration of turning to Christ from the baptism service.
  • An affirmation of faith using the words of the Apostles' Creed.
  • A threefold declaration of commitment to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

'I answer the call of God my creator.

I trust in Christ Jesus as my saviour.

I seek new life from the Holy Spirit.'

  • A prayer by the bishop or the parish priest:

'God of mercy and love,

In baptism you welcome the sinner

and restore the dead to life.

You create a clean heart in those who repent,

and give your Holy Spirit to those who ask.

Grant that these your servants may grow

into the fullness of the stature of Christ.

Equip them with the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

and fill them with faith in Jesus Christ

and with love for your people,

in the service of your kingdom. Amen'

The laying on of hands by the bishop or the parish priest with the words:

'N, may God renew his life within you

that you may confess his name this day and for ever.'

and each candidate replying 'Amen.'

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