this week i have been meeting with other diocesan youth workers to chat amongst other things confirmation. It was decided that we would write a letter to some important people about our concerns so here are soem highlights:
“Confirmation is a time where we actively and consciously allow and accept God’s work in our lives, and commit ourselves to work with God in His world.” PADYS - 2006
As Diocesan Youth Ministry Advisers we are concerned with the downward trend of interest in and promotion of Confirmation for several reasons:
· We recognise it as a time when a young person may actively and consciously allow and accept God work in their lives and commit themselves to work with God in his world. It is a young person’s yes to God’s YES to them as a child.
· We recognise the need for rites of passage. Anthropologist Victor Turner in his study of Ndembu people of Zambia noted two purposes in their rites of passage. Firstly it was a transition into adulthood. Secondly it was an occasion to renew and reinvigorate the village through the young males sharing their wilderness stories the village elders were encouraged to revive and relive their memories also. We believe that the process of confirmation when done well may inspire a dying Church to rediscover her life and purpose through the sharing of a common experience when it is seen through ‘younger’ eyes.
· We recognise that discipleship is a response to the call of Christ, and that the impact of intentional discipleship programmes has been on the rise of late in the life of the wider Church (Alpha, 40 days of Purpose, Discovering Jesus etc.) All these programmes seem to have a historical root in Catechumanate or confirmation classes. While we recognise the strength of the curriculum of these programs – the real strength is often through the relationships that have been developed over a short term. We are of the opinion that a well run Confirmation class, where relationships are built, the purposes of the Christian life are discussed and the peculiarities of the Church are explained would serve the young people of the Anglican Church better.
While Confirmation of late has been seen by some as a time to ‘graduate the Church,” our belief is that to throw away the rite is to take a knife to the umbilical cord of an emerging church before she is ready to be born. Subsequently we believe there is a need to refocus, renew and re establish confirmation as rite that is made available to all young people in the Anglican Church.
I am off on holiday now so blog will be at a bare minimum for the next few weeks