I’ve Been Getting Something Wrong About Confirmation

The subject of the verb “confirm” in my church’s description of Confirmation is “the church.” The object is “them,” “those baptized as children.” Following the object is this prepositional phrase: “in their baptismal identity.”

“. . . the church shall confirm them in their baptismal identity.”

Two things about this.

  1. Almost every Confirmation class I have led has included youth who were not baptized as children. We have adapted the process to welcome a broader range of students, recognizing that the present intention of a student matters just as much as the past intention of their parents.
  2. Nearly every Confirmation class I have ever led has also included youth who choose not to “make public their personal profession of faith and their acceptance of responsibility in the life of the church.” And yet, though they are not received by the session as active members, they are still presented to the congregation during a service of public worship and confirmed in their baptismal identity. Their identity as beloved children of God does not hinge upon their profession of faith.

I’ve made of habit of telling Confirmation youth and parents that “getting confirmed” is not really something you do in a Presbyterian church. You make a profession of faith. I see now where that has been wrong. Some students make professions of faith. All of them get confirmed.


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