St. Paul's Episcopal Church Monroe, NC
St. Paul's Episcopal ChurchMonroe, NC


In the Sacrament of Confirmation, 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). Those who were baptized at an early age and those baptized as adults without laying on of hands by a bishop are expected to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412). The question of who should be confirmed, who should be received, and who should reaffirm their baptismal faith often arises given the various changes in the Canons of the Episcopal Church over the last few years. The following is intended to clarify this.


The sacramental rite of Holy Confirmation (including Reception and Reaffirmation) provides an opportunity for a mature and public affirmation of our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord within the body of Christ, the Church. The presence of a Bishop as a representative of our apostolic and catholic heritage, is a symbolic reminder that the body of Christ in not only the local community of faith, but the church catholic dispersed throughout the world. In addition, for persons whose Christian journey has been lived out previously in other Christian traditions, this rite sacramentally marks the new relationship within this particular branch of Christ’s holy, catholic church.


With regard to confirmation the canons say the following: “It is expected that all adult members of this church after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands, by a Bishop of this church or by a Bishop of a church in communion with this church. Those who have previously made a mature public commitment in another church may be received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this church rather than confirmed.” (Title I Canon 17, Section 1c.3)


In this light the following guidelines apply in the Diocese of North Carolina:

1. Preparation: All persons confirmed or received should be prepared for the sacrament after a structured, substantive and significant process of catechesis and formation in the faith.


2. Confirmation for Young People: Young persons baptized prior to the age of discretion should be presented for confirmation after a structured, substantive and significant experience of catechesis and formation.


3. Confirmation of Adults: Adults who have been baptized with water in the name of the Triune God but who have not made previously made a mature public affirmation of faith should be confirmed after an adult process of catechesis and formation.


4. Persons to be Received into this Communion: Persons who have been baptized previously and have made a mature commitment of faith in any other Christian church may be received. This is a change from the previous practice of receiving persons only from the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. As mentioned previously it is expected that such persons will be prepared after a process of catechesis and formation appropriate for those being received.


5. Re-affirmation of Baptismal Vows: The opportunity to re-affirm baptismal vows with the laying on of hands by a Bishop is intended to provide an opportunity for the faithful to sacramentally mark significant experiences of spiritual growth, formation or study with a renewed faith commitment to our Lord and the way of a disciple. As with baptism and confirmation this moment in the person’s spiritual journey should also be marked with a certificate.


6. For canonical and statistical purposes all persons who have been confirmed or received are considered both baptized and confirmed.


Those who have returned from a time of religious inactivity to an active practice of faith may publicly reaffirm their baptismal vows. 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. Preparation for Confirmation/Reception/Reaffirmation should help the candidates discover the meaning of Christian commitment in their lives, and explore ways that their Christian commitment can be lived. This preparation draws upon the baptismal covenant (BCP, pp. 416-417) and An Outline of the Faith (BCP, pp. 845-862).


Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation are rooted in the baptismal covenant. Confirmation/Reception/Reaffirmation may be done at the service of Holy Baptism or at the Easter Vigil when a bishop is present (BCP, pp. 292, 309-310).



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 (i.e. Baptism), nor is Confirmation a prerequisite for receiving communion. Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's body the church (BCP, p. 298). Accordingly, Confirmation is understood in terms of a mature, public reaffirmation of the Christian faith and the baptismal promises.

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