Comments: General Synod - Sunday roundup

Whatever one thinks of the Bradford motion ,it highlights an important problem. We have a situation where there is a small percentage of baptized and confirmed and a huge number of baptized but unconfirmed. The Parish Communion movements success means that in many places the only service on offer is eucharistic.In the last 50 yrs Mattins has all but disappeared and Evensong too. ( Esong was the best attended service at the church where I was a choir boy in the 1950's) The number of working class kids confirmed at 11-13 has dropped substantially I suspect though the number of children at independent schools who get confirmed is still quite who is "eligible" to receive communion is pretty some places children are admitted to communio before many actually get confirmed? This further complicates things. What is confirmation? The C of E since the Reformation has combined both a reformed and a more catholic understanding, and the catholic understanding became more impt post Oxford Movt...but it is all a muddle, and a theologically coherent way forward seems rather elusive to me...hence kick it into touch!

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 11 July 2011 at 11:01am BST

" ... in some places children are admitted to communio before many actually get confirmed?"

I can only base this comment on local experience at my own parish. TEC abandoned confirmation as a requirement for Communion some years ago. I've noticed no sudden drop in confirmations locally.

We prepare confirmands [children and adults] with a curriculum that includes church history, theology, liturgics - not as you would study in seminary - but as an introduction to the church.

One of the reasons we have both a bishop and a bishop suffragen and an assisting bishop in this large diocese of Virginia is to have enough bps to confirm candidates.

One difference from when I was a preteen taking confirmatiun class is that we are as likely to have as many adults as children - some of the adults being received from other churches, and quite a few coming from no church at all.

I don't know what national statistics are like, and would be interested in knowing.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 11 July 2011 at 6:39pm BST

The present situation is indeed a muddle. The simple acceptance of baptism as full initiation (with chrismation) and demise of confirmation would cut the Gordian knot but we are nowhere near agreement on that. This proposal would have more credibility if admission of unconfirmed children to communion was already sweeping the board, thus indicating widespread acceptance of baptismal initiation as full and final, but local observation tells me that it is not (anyone have any figures?) Clergy and PCCs: take advantage of the existing legislation and sacramentally embrace your children!

Posted by Samuel Denyer at Monday, 11 July 2011 at 8:23pm BST

I think part of the problem in the C of E is that the Geoffrey Lampe line that baptism constitutes full sacramental initiation, forcefully expounded by Colin Buchanan, hasn't really won hearts and minds...and you can see why. It identifies the minimal with the essential. Of course the act of baptism is the minimum essential rite of entry into the Church but does that make everything else more or less dispensable illustrative extras? Confirmation, in the sense of publicly acknowledging ones faith surely has an essential connection with the process of initiation.I think this can only be resolved ecumenically...taking into consideration Lima and the work of the Roman Catholic/ Orthodox Commission.It is further complicated by the fact that in England most parishes have a very inclusive baptism policy ( buttressed by canon law and the fact it is a National Church) which I suspect is very different to other parts of the Anglican Communion. Chrismation is rarely practiced in the Church of England...if consecrated oil is used it is mostly the oil of the catechumens. Some bishops chrismate at confirmation...I suspect evangelical parishes have little time for consecrated oil...or indeed baptismal candles and, alas, mandatory matters like blessing the water in the font.

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 12 July 2011 at 12:27pm BST

Agreed that baptism as full initiation has not 'taken' in the C of E. The problem is that tying reception into communion either with confirmation or attainment of a particular age do not come with a satisfying and widely accepted sacramental theology either. Instead, objections by congregations to baptism as full reception tend to the rather lame 'it would be a shame to lose confirmation', 'it's worth waiting for something special', etc. These are often expressed tentatively because they correctly recognise that these are weak arguments. In other words, to the thoughtful church member, the status quo is not particularly defensible either.
To deny full members of the church the sacrament of communion because it poses the awkward question of what will become of confirmation (and maybe the suffragans who perform them) seems to be spectacularly cart-before-horse sacramental theology!

Posted by Samuel Denyer at Tuesday, 12 July 2011 at 10:25pm BST

Not a word about that inner commitment without which baptism, confirmation and holy communion are

Why are discussions so lacking in this dimension?

As the BCP makes it clear that people who have not been Confirmed may receive holy communion 'if desirous', I find much of the discussion here, somewhat beside the point.

Yes, the loss of the non-sacramental forms of worship of Morning Prayer is an enormous loss. Loss - of those people whose spirituality was not of a sacramental sort. And good, modest people who 'would not presume' ...

Communion services can come across as quite glib, superficial and self-congratulatory, I have found. Lacking in quiet reverence, awe and a sense of proportion.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 15 July 2011 at 12:32pm BST
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