Professing Our Faith: Adult Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation

Are you interested in deepening your connection to the Church, and proclaiming your faith in Christ through Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation?  Opportunities for all three will be offered on Saturday, June 4th, 2022, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  In preparation, we will gather two times (on April 27th and May 11th) to discuss these sacred rites, using Tokens of Trust, a book written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, as our guide.  If you are interested, please contact Debie Thomas, our Minister of Lifelong Formation, at debie@saint-marks.com.

Here is some more information about each rite:

Confirmation: Baptism is the ancient entry rite into the Church, which is also called “the Body of Christ.” In Baptism, we affirm that we belong to the God who is made known to us in Jesus, and we promise (or, promises are made for us, if we are infants) to live our lives in accordance with this deepest truth about who we are and whose we are. Confirmation in the Episcopal Church is a sacramental rite in which a baptized person makes a mature and public affirmation of the promises that are normally made at Baptism. After making these affirmations, a bishop in apostolic succession lays hands on the candidate and prays a prayer of confirmation. (See the Book of Common Prayer for the promises made at Baptism, pp. 299-308, and for the proceedings at Confirmation, pp. 413-419)

Reception: In some dioceses, Reception is reserved for those who have already been Confirmed in another denomination by a bishop in apostolic succession (Roman Catholics, Orthodox). A more widely accepted understanding of Reception is that it is a way of honoring anyone who has made a mature confession of faith in any other denomination by saying, in effect, we recognize and honor your spiritual journey in another fellowship, and we welcome you into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church, as you continue that journey. The bishop lays hands on the person being received and says, “We recognize you as a member of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the fellowship of this Communion” (BCP, p. 418). So, if you have not been Confirmed or Received by a bishop in apostolic succession, you may choose either Confirmation or Reception, although tradition might nudge you toward Confirmation.

Reaffirmation: Reaffirmation is for people who are already Confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Some people presented to the bishop during the service of Confirmation are there to “reaffirm” their Christian vows. These might be people who have been away from the church for a period of time and want to make a new beginning. Others might be people who sense that they are at a new stage in their spiritual life and want to affirm this in ritual. Periodically, a spouse or fiancé who is already a Confirmed Episcopalian will go through Reaffirmation, as a way of honoring his or her partner’s decision to become a Confirmed Episcopalian, saying in effect, “We are in this together.” We all go through many changes in our life’s journey, and reaffirmation provides a rite for those who want to take stock of their religious and spiritual life anew.