Confirmation in the Church of England
Confirmation is the service in which people take on for themselves the commitments originally made for them at baptism by their parents and godparents.
They commit themselves to following Christ and the Bishop, laying his hands on their heads prays that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen them in their Christian journey.
A bit of background
In the early church Confirmation was originally part of the service of Baptism, forming the final part of that service. Baptism and Confirmation were always done by a Bishop, because he was a symbol of the wider church; when you are baptised and confirmed you become part of that church, not simply of the church in which the Baptism takes place, or even of one denomination within it. It was common at the time for people to be baptised later in life, after a prolonged period of preparation.
Two things happened to change that pattern, however. Numbers of Christians grew and people started wanting to baptise babies as soon as possible after they were born. It became impossible for the Bishops to keep up with the demand, so they delegated Baptism to the local priests. They insisted that the power to confirm stayed with them, however, to emphasise that Christians were still part of the larger body of the church as well as their own little branch of it. They would travel around their Dioceses (the areas they were responsible) confirming those who had already been baptised as and when it was possible. This meant that there was a time lag between Baptism and Confirmation, but often children would still be quite small when they were confirmed.
After the Reformation, when greater emphasis was placed on people understanding their faith, Confirmation was normally delayed until children were old enough to have received some preparation (learning their Catechism).
This is the pattern which we have inherited today, with people often (but not always) being baptised as children, but then being confirmed later, either as teenagers or adults. Confirmation candidates now are of all ages - often there are candidates well past retirement age as well as teenagers and young adults. Increasing numbers will also be baptised either at the confirmation service or in a separate service soon before their confirmation because they weren't baptised when they were younger. You are never too old for Baptism or Confirmation!
Confirmation through Seal Church
If you would like to be confirmed (and baptised if necessary), please contact me to ask about this. I normally prepare young people for confirmation in groups, meeting together for between 6 -10 sessions. Usually I meet with adults for one-to-one sessions and the content and length of the preparation course will vary according to what seems to be appropriate for you. If it seems right (and possible) I may try to prepare adults in a group for some of the time, so that you can encourage each other. Preparation, whether for adults or young people is very relaxed and informal. There are no exams! We explore Christian faith, and your experience of it and thoughts about it, starting from where you are and relating it to your own life. There aren't "right" and "wrong" answers, and you can say anything and ask anything you like - I am pretty unshockable!
The Confirmation service
Confirmation services usually involve people from a variety of churches coming together. We don't normally have Confirmation services at Seal church (lack of car parking and other facilities make it difficult), so we will join in with a Confirmation at another church in the Diocese. There are only a limited number of Confirmation services in the year, so we have to fit in with what is on offer. Space for family and friends at services is limited, since there are often large numbers of condidates, but you are welcome to invite those closest to you to support you on the day. We will talk about the service itself and what you will need to do and say during the preparation and there is normally a rehearsal soon before the confirmation as well.
Confirmation services are always immensely joyful and inspiring occasions, where you will meet a wide variety of people - not experts, not plaster saints, but people like you who just want to take the next step on your journey with Christ.