Admission of Baptised Persons to Holy Communion before Confirmation
THE UNITED BENEFICE OF BRIGG, WRAWBY AND CADNEY-CUM-HOWSHAM
POLICY: Admission of Baptised Persons to Holy Communion before Confirmation
Has the PCC discussed this subject in light of the Regulations?
Prior to the meetings of the three PCC’s in December 2006, copies of the regulations were circulated to each PCC Member for reading, reflection and prayer. The PCC’s of all three parishes then discussed the matter fully at their individual meetings of December 2006, and the regulations were explained and we reflected upon the way forward.
What was the outcome?
The PCC’s of Brigg and Cadney give the subject of Admission of Baptised Persons to Holy Communion before Confirmation their unanimous and wholehearted Support.
The PCC of Wrawby where a little more apprehensive, giving their provisional acceptance, but desire to see what the policy and preparation would be like before giving their final approval. Some concern was expressed about how we prove a person has been baptised, though this was resolved simply by requesting proof – either their baptism certificate of written confirmation from the registers of the parish in which they were baptised. Concern was also expressed about how we move those admitted onto Confirmation at the appropriate time. There was a fairly lengthy discussion on grace and how God might be at work here.
It was decided that I should work on addressing the questions raised by Rt. Revd. David Rossdale, which some in the congregation have contributed to, and which I now forward for your comments as to the next step. If you are happy with this material, I will take it back to Wrawby PCC for a final decision. Brigg and Cadney will seek to finalise their preparation material and move forward.
How has the wider congregation been involved in the discussion?
The wider congregation has been involved and invited to discuss the proposal by means of the verbal notices at the Eucharist, and by invitation on the monthly Pew Sheets, putting forward their opinions to a member of the PCC, the Liturgy group or to myself.
What was the outcome?
Those who have spoken to me about the matter have been positive and encouraging, seeing it as a good way of involving those in our regular congregation more fully in the life of the Church. Some have also commented that it may do away with what ‘new-comers’ may regard as an ‘us and them’ attitude to Church membership and children being less worthy to receive the Sacraments than Confirmed adults.
Others have expressed a concern that the ‘wholesale admission to communion’ would negate the need for the Sacrament of Confirmation, but are comfortable with seeing it as a step towards confirmation at a younger age, to be taken when the candidate has covered most of the preparation course and can prove their readiness to receive at the Eucharist.
One member of the congregation has passed on some books they have found helpful as they have thought through this issue – Children and Holy Communion – An Ecumenical Consideration amongst Churches in Britain and Ireland and Pedley and Muir’s Children in the Church? These books, whilst not being ideal sources of training material do raise some interesting questions and may be helpful to any within the wider congregation who might have questions or concerns about involving children more fully in the life and worship of Christ’s Church.
What other guidance or advice has been sought (if any)?
I have asked at Chapter for advice concerning the establishment of policy, and have also discussed this with Clergy friends from my Collage days, receiving some helpful and encouraging advice based upon their experiences.
How will the preparation of the children for Holy Communion be organised?
3 or 4 one hour sessions of simple but sound teaching, looking at:
- What Holy Communion means and what we do in the Eucharistic service, and how precious the elements are.
- The Christian life and how Holy Communion fits into this way of living.
- Reflection on the need to move towards Confirmation as part of our Christian journey, and how the Sacraments all fit together.
- Explanation of what we do and why within the Eucharist.
Any preparation will need to be adjusted to suit the age, understanding and ability of the candidate.
Who will lead the preparation, and what training will they be given?
Myself, Lay Ministry Scheme Members with an interest, some of the congregation have expressed a desire to be involved so far, and others will be invited to help.
CRB checks; never less than 2 adults present.
One particularly good suggestion from within the wider congregation has been to involve the wider church community in the preparation. For example, Children being prepared could spend time with the Sacristans, who can explain their role within church life, and talk about the vessels and vestments, etc, used in the Eucharist. The Warden’s could explain their role and duties within the life of the Church. Others, such as the Readers, the Intercessors, the Choir, Flower Arrangers, etc could all be invited to speak to those being prepared and give a fuller picture of Church life explaining why we do certain things and the reasoning behind things.
What teaching materials will be used?
People are the best resource we have, and so we must use their skills and knowledge of Church life, but we must also use appropriate material to explain the theology, ecclesiology and so forth in a simple but clear and accurate way. The present intention is to develop material which can be applied across the Benefice, but will incorporate any other suitable material we can find from bookshops, etc. Fellow Clergy have made one or two suggestions of material they use, which I am trying to get copies of at the present time.
With this in mind, I have found Revd. Graeme Brady’s Going to the Supper of the Lord a very useful resource which will constitute the bulk of the preparation material. It has also been suggested by a colleague that I look at Margaret Withers Welcome to the Lord’s Table.
Clearly, those involved in preparation of candidates will need to be trained and prepared themselves before we can begin to look at preparing any children, and this needs putting into a time frame, and preparation material for the trainers needs to be developed. Training will centre on discussion and familiarisation with the material being used, the reasons for admitting children to Holy Communion before Confirmation and how we use this policy as an aid to the growth of the individual and the whole congregation.
How will the children’s nurture towards Confirmation continue after they have been admitted to Communion?
Simplified Youth Emmaus could be run over the next year.
A session for reflection on how admission has affected them and helped or hindered their journey of growth in the faith.
Teaching on what the Sacrament of Confirmation is, and it’s implications for the continuing growth of our Christian lives.
How will parents be involved in the preparation of their children for Holy Communion?
Parents will be invited to join us for the preparation sessions, and will be encouraged to work through anything covered with their children at home following each session. Parental involvement and good communication makes for a stronger bond, and therefore suggests further outreach opportunities. A simple order of Compline or similar could be developed to encourage children and parents to pray together each day at home.
What strategies do you have for families who do not wish for their children to be admitted to Holy Communion?
I feel we must respect the wishes of parents, but will offer them the chance to review the material and answer any questions they might have. It’s also important to stress that because they do not feel it appropriate at the present time, the offer would stand in the future should they feel that their situation has changed.
What strategies do you have for children who come to church without their parents?
- Request parent’s written permission and discuss with them what we are doing and why.
- Discuss with them any concerns.
- Discuss with them the preparation material and attempt to encourage them to get involved by helping their children with any ‘homework’ or discussing at home what we have been doing.
- Invite them to come along –to the preparation sessions, to their children’s first Communion and as often as they would like to join us.
What provisions will be made for the nurture of children with learning difficulties who wish to receive Holy Communion?
Take as long in preparing as the child needs and wants, perhaps extending the length of preparation. Get a third person to join us, who can focus on that child and give one on one preparation (whilst remaining in an appropriate setting with the other’s being prepared). We also have a small number of people within our congregations who have a background in working with children and adults with learning difficulties, with whom we would liaise and seek advice, involving them as much as they are willing.
How will children be involved and affirmed as members of the Christian community:
Within the Eucharist?
Fully! E.g. Choir, serving, reading, prayers, whatever involvement they feel they would like. Furthermore, as mentioned above, by bringing the whole church into the preparation stage, the children will hopefully grow into and take on their own places within the life in the church, perhaps by assisting the various groups. For example, if a child shows an interest in the work of Sacristan, that child could be invited to assist in setting up for the service, thus establishing a natural progression of involvement and belonging.
Within non-Eucharistic worship?
Fully! Family worship will involve children of all ages, and at different stages in their own journey of faith. The children can work and grow together by involvement in plays, readings, drama, music and so forth within the non-Eucharistic worship. Adults are always welcome of course, and may wish to join us to witness their children’s involvement, and hopefully, become more involved themselves.
In social events?
Fully! Current social events that could involve children are coffee mornings, and various charity fundraising events, day trips run by the various groups within with the Church – Mother’s Union, for example; preparing the church for major Feast Days (Christmas/Easter etc, is a big social thing at Brigg!). Other ideas could include activity days, one of which is planned for Holy Saturday 2007, and we could make something social out of Mothering Sunday. This area clearly needs more thought and dialogue within the churches, but there is potential. We must first find out what it is the children want, rather than telling them what we want them to receive from us. Dialogue!!!
Things to consider:
- All three scenarios involve the Churches responsibility of care, especially if parents are not present, never leaving the children alone or without 2/3 adults minimum to supervise them.
- We must talk to the children and discover what they want in terms of worship and socialising. The church must break the habit of one generation telling the next what they want, and create an atmosphere of openness to the wishes of the young children.
- We need to be realistic here, and not expect hundreds of children to suddenly appear requesting Admission. There are about a dozen children at present within the benefice to which this may apply, not all of who may desire to go down this route. Then, I imagine, it will be the odd one or two who come to us as time goes on. We are talking small numbers, but the effort involved in developing and running the occasional preparation sessions will be worthwhile as we help these children on their Christian journeys.
- There is a tendency for young children to be more receptive, older ones more sceptical, and teenagers are easily lost. What can we do to keep teenagers? Sports, Youth Group, etc.
- Recruitment of energetic team leaders is vital. If we can attract younger families in to help with the social aspect and relate better to the teens, we can offer them something positive.
Please give information about the Certificate of Admission personal to the individual and the Register of all those in the parish so admitted.
Unless certificates are being professionally produced, we’ll make them on the computer and keep a full register of those prepared and admitted.