2. The different confirmation services in the Church of England.
As in the case of baptism, there are two types of confirmation service in the Church of England, those that follow the confirmation service in The Book of Common Prayer and those that use the pattern of confirmation service contained in Common Worship.
Most confirmation services today follow the Common Worship pattern.
3. The content of the confirmation services
The Book of Common Prayer confirmation rite is brief. It consists of:
A declaration by the candidates that they renew the ‘solemn promise and vow’ made on their behalf at their baptisms. A prayer by the people led by the bishop asking that God wil l strengthen those who are confirmed with the Holy Spirit and that they wil l be given the sevenfold gifts of God’s grace mentioned in Isaiah 11:2.
The laying on of hands by the bishop with the words: ‘Defend. O Lord this thy child [or this thy
servant] with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit, more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.’
Prayers led by the bishop in which it is asked that God’s Fatherly hand wil l be over the candidates, that His Holy Spirit will ever be with them and that they wil l be led by God to attain everlasting life.
Although the basic elements of the rite remain the same, The Common Worship Confirmation rite is longer and contains a number of additional elements:
It begins with the bishop asking the candidates to state whether they are ready to be baptised or have been baptised already and whether they are willing to affirm their faith in Jesus Christ. At this point candidates may be invited to give their testimony – a brief statement about how God has brought them to this point in their lives.
The bishop then asks the candidates to repeat the renunciation of the devil and all that is evil and the declaration of turning to Christ from the baptism service.
If there are any candidates who have not been baptised they are next baptised by the bishop. After this has taken place all the candidates join with the bishop and the rest of the congregation in reciting the Apostles’ Creed as an expression of the Christian faith into which they were baptised and which they are now affirming for themselves. They may then be signed or sprinkled with water as a reminder of their baptism and of their need to remain faithful to the commitment to God that their baptism involved.
Using words based on Isaiah 11:2, the bishop leads the people in praying for the Holy Spirit to rest upon those being confirmed and following this confirmation prayer the bishop addresses each candidate by name and says:
‘[Name] God has called you by name and made you his own.’
The bishop then lays his hand on the head of each candidate, saying ‘Confirm, O Lord, your servant [Name] with your Holy Spirit.’
Each candidate replies Amen..
When all have been confirmed in this way, the bishop invites the congregation to join with him in praying:
‘Defend, O Lord, these your servants with your heavenly grace, that they may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more until they come to your everlasting kingdom. Amen.’
The bishop may then use words of commissioning in which the candidates are able to express their determination, with the help of God, to live a life of Christian discipleship and the candidates may also be anointed with oil as an additional sign of their anointing by the Holy Spirit.