At Christ Church we believe that when the people of God gather together around the altar to share in this sacrament Christ is present in a special way. To share in Holy communion is to open ourselves to God’s grace. We welcome people of faith from all Christian denominations to share in this sacrament with us.
Any adult who has not been confirmed is encouraged to consider taking this step of commitment and suitable preparation can be provided to enable this.
Admission of children to Communion before Confirmation
Christ Church, like many other churches in the Diocese of Southwark admits children to Holy Communion. These children are allowed to receive the bread and wine, before they have been confirmed.
Why do we admit children to communion before confirmation?
At Christ Church nearly all our services include Holy Communion, and we are privileged to have many children sharing with us in these services. If these children cannot receive communion they can feel excluded from what they can see is a very special moment for the adults.
Confirmation, the time at which we make the promises made at our Baptism by our godparents our own, has not always been the ‘gateway to communion’. The real qualification for entrance to communion is our Baptism. It is by Baptism that we join the church, the community of God’s people. The Holy Communion is the great fellowship meal of the church, in which every baptised Christian can share. It was only relatively late in church history that some churches began to deny the bread and wine to children. In the case of the Church of England confirmation was made the gateway to the communion rail (the orthodox churches have always given communion to children, even infants).
Many years ago the Church of England began experimenting with admitting children to communion before confirmation. Now this practice is being encouraged and becoming increasingly widespread.
What are the advantages of admitting children to Holy Communion before confirmation?
- Children can enjoy all the benefits of membership of the church community, without insisting that they be confirmed. It allows them to be included, rather than excluded, from one of the greatest gifts of Christ to his church. In doing this it also encourages them to take their responsibilities as Christian people more seriously.
- Confirmation to be kept for a time when the children have grown up and truly reached adulthood (late teens at the earliest). Therefore, when they are confirmed, they are more able to understand the significance of the declarations they make.
- If, as is sometimes the case, children stop attending church during their teenage years it is easier for them to return later (as they often do) if they have been admitted to communion. They already feel full members of the church. In such cases confirmation is then available to them. Indeed it will be very appropriate for them as people who are now sure as adults that they wish to be members of the church. Interestingly, there is already evidence that the ‘drop out rate’ amongst teenagers who have been admitted to communion is lower than amongst those who are confirmed as children.
What are the criteria for the admission of children to Holy Communion?
- children must have been baptised, (within any Christian denomination)
- they should be regular in their attendance at Christ Church
- they should have been attending church for approximately 6 months
- their parents must be in agreement
- they must have been to a preparation group
- they should know the Lord’s Prayer
- they must be clear that they wish to be admitted
At regular intervals group made up of any children who wish to be admitted to Holy Communion and who meet the criteria will be prepared and admitted. Their parents will be contacted and asked to give their permission and their support. Parents are also offered the chance to discuss the issue in more depth.
The preparation of the children needs to take place on an ongoing basis in the regular Sunday children’s groups, in special preparation groups, and ideally also at home. The preparation groups take the form of workshops, usually on Saturdays.
The main points made in preparation include the following:
- The Christian life is about being a follower of Jesus Christ and sharing in the life and witness of the Christian community. This involves a life long journey of faith and discovery, we never know everything. There will always be more to learn and to discover, right up to the end of our lives.
- The historical link between the Eucharist and the Last Supper.
- Holy Communion is a special meal shared by an open, loving, community/family. A community/family made up of people of different background and age but united by baptism and a shared faith.
- The Eucharist is the service in which we join with our brother and sister Christians to celebrate God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ, particularly his death and resurrection, and to respond to that gift by offering ourselves in love and service to God and God’s world.
After preparation the children are formally admitted in a short simple ceremony during a Sunday service. As required by the diocese, a record of those admitted is kept.
How can I find out more?
If you would like to know more about this please speaks to one of the clergy.