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Rites of Passage: Confirmation
What happens when someone is confirmed?
When a baby is baptised, parents and godparents make promises for them. Once they are old enough, they can decide for themselves if they wish to live as a Christian and make their own promises in the confirmation service.
Confirmation happens in Anglican and Catholic churches. Before people are confirmed they will usually go to 'confirmation classes'. Here they will be taught about the important beliefs of Christians. This is really important. They may have been baptised as a baby but in the confirmation service, they will make their own promises before God about choosing to live as a Christian.
On the day, confirmation candidates will come from several churches in the area. Their family and friends will join with them to support them and to celebrate this special day. Some of the people being confirmed talk about why they believe in Jesus and want to be confirmed. This is called a 'testimony'.
The bishop then asks the people being confirmed if they have been baptised. Anyone who has not been baptised will be baptised now. When it is time for the confirmation, each person comes to the front and kneels down. The bishop says, 'God has called you by name and made you his own.'
The bishop then puts his hand on their head. He says, 'Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.' They say 'Amen.'
In Catholic churches the Bishop then draws the sign of the cross on the forehead of the candidate with the oil of chrism; sometimes an Anglican bishop will do this as well. This is an ancient sign of being chosen by God. The sign of the cross shows that the candidate is a child of God. Oil can be used to heal or to give strength. At the end of the service, the bishop prays for God to bless and help all who are there.