In May 2014, the PCC unanimously passed a policy of welcoming baptised children to Communion before Confirmation. You can read the Policy Statement in full here. This has now been approved by Bishop John.
Over a six month period, the PCC has discussed the subject of Communion before Confirmation, in the light of diocesan regulations, and advice and support from other parish experiences, liturgy specialists and the diocesan Children’s Advisor. The topic has also been considered at regular meetings of the Ministry Team. The wider congregation has shared in these discussions through literature in the parish magazine and on the church’s website, and by means of roundtable discussions after the sermons of the special Lent programme, and also through informal conversations one member with another. Clergy have also had individual conversations with those families whose children would be specifically affected. There is a range of responses to the issue; however, in general the PCC felt that there was sufficient goodwill for a policy and procedure to be drawn up.
In the last decade, the relation between Confirmation and receiving Communion has been evolving. Under Canon Law, children and adults who have been baptised can be fully involved in the Communion service by receiving bread and wine. For most of us, our experience of initiation into the Church of England has been one which follows the pattern of Baptism, and Confirmation followed by admission to Holy Communion. However, for pastoral and theological reasons, many parishes decide to apply for permission from their diocesan Bishop to welcome any baptised person to take Communion. This is done after a parish-wide discussion over a period of time, and as a result of a formal decision by the PCC on behalf of the parish. A number of resources can be accessed through the picture links at below.
Click on the pictures to open the link in a new window
As a parish, we have taken the time to reflect prayerfully on this question. This is an important issue at the heart of our community understanding of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation, and we feel that the process of discussion and exploration has been valuable to us, irrespective of the conclusions that we reach together. However, our hand could be ‘forced’ at any time as once a child has been admitted to Communion in one parish or diocese, the regulations state that she or he is entitled to receive in any parish, whether or not that parish has itself gained permission to admit children. This means that a family arriving in St Mary’s with children who are used to receiving Communion have the right to the same in our parish.
The timescale for our exploration:
Communion Before Confirmation tabled as an item for INFORMATION at the PCC. PCC able to begin research using resources on church website as a starting point
from January 2014
Communion Before Confirmation as major agenda item for DISCUSSION at PCC and plans agreed for parish-wide sharing learning. Parish-wide shared learning and CONSULTATION, through sermons, small groups, parish magazine and website resources etc etc exploring for and against issues, as well as practicalities of how a decision either way would be taken forward
PCC meets for DISCUSSION about issues arising from the parish-wide conversation, and to consider any additional consultation activities to be undertaken
PCC meets to review progress since last meeting and comes to an unanimous DECISION to apply to Bishop John for permission to offer Communion before Confirmation as part of our parish practice
Planning and pastoral ACTIVITY in the light of the PCC decision, and the response from Bishop John
Provisional plans for a Service of Welcome for the first of our children who have been prepared for Communion before Confirmation