The Bishop is Coming: Baptism, Adult Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation of Baptism
On Sunday, August 21, the Right Reverend Brian Prior, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, will visit St. John’s and Holy Apostles Episcopal Churches simultaneously during our joint parish worship and summer picnic.
What does that mean? Well, a lot of things. The picnic is one of five Sundays annually when we celebrate baptisms. And, since the bishop is our chief pastor and priest, when he or she is present for baptisms, it is customary to have the bishop celebrate Eucharist and preside at baptisms. What’s more, the bishop is the person set apart by the church to welcome new members into the communion of our particular faith tradition through confirmation and reception.
So, if you’re an adult (youth confirmations will happen at another time dependent on the youth confirmation program) who has joined St. John’s as a member but never been confirmed an Episcopalian, or if you were confirmed Lutheran, Catholic, or Orthodox and would like to be received, this is a wonderful opportunity to take that step in the midst of a community you know and love. If you’ve been considering baptism for yourself or a child, this could be a unique and special context to celebrate that rite! Our picnic will be outdoors (weather permitting) at Wabun park just across the Ford River Parkway on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi in Minneapolis, and baptisms will happen down the hill in Minnehaha Creek.
Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation of Baptism are moments of new beginning, an entrance into the body of Christ or the local expression of that body in the Episcopal Church. These are moments when God’s grace is made present and real, and these are moments when we deepen our journey in the Jesus Movement.
Why Adult Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation are Important
The Episcopal Church’s theology of Confirmation has continued to evolve along with its understanding of baptism. Confirmation is no longer seen as the completion of Christian initiation. Instead, it has been increasingly understood in terms of a public reaffirmation of the Christian faith and the baptismal promises. It is the sacramental rite in which the candidates “express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (BCP, p. 860). It is not just for teens attending Confirmation classes, but an important ritual for adults as well.
Others who have experienced a renewal of faith or desire to renew their Christian commitment may also reaffirm their baptismal vows. Reaffirmation may be repeated, depending on the pastoral needs of the person. The candidates reaffirm their renunciation of evil, and renew their commitment to Jesus Christ. They reaffirm the promises made by them or for them at the time of baptism. Those present in the congregation promise to do all in their power to support the candidates in their life in Christ.
Reception (Christian Commitment) is for baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship and who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church. They may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a bishop. The bishop lays hands on each candidate for reception 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).
Why is laying on of hands by a bishop important? Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the time of the apostles. For the early Fathers, “the identity of the oral tradition with the original revelation is guaranteed by the unbroken succession of bishops in the great sees going back lineally to the apostles.”
Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation are rooted in the baptismal covenant. They are important and meaningful events in an adult faith journey.
If you are interested in taking any of these as your next step, or simply have questions about them, please contact the Rev. Jered Weber-Johnson.