More than a few folks have asked me, “Do I need to be confirmed?”
The short answer is no. You don’t need to be confirmed. Jesus never said a word about confirmation. Confirmation doesn’t accomplish, secure, guarantee, or otherwise bolster your salvation. As far as I know, no one’s ever depicted St. Peter standing at the pearly gates with the churches’ confirmation rosters to determine who’s in and who’s out.
But here’s why you might want to be confirmed. Confirmation is a chance for you, as a mature, cognizant, decision-making person, to make a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ and your decision to live out that faith in the context of this church community. For those of us who were baptized as infants or young children, our parents made promises on our behalf at our baptism—promises to renounce evil, to accept Christ as their savior, and to follow and obey him. Confirmation is our opportunity to take on those promises, and the responsibilities they entail, for ourselves. For those who were baptized as adults (or older children), confirmation is a time to reaffirm your faith and the commitment to the promises you made at your baptism.
And for all of us, through confirmation we are strengthened and empowered by the Holy Spirit to use our gifts for the building of God’s Kingdom. As part of confirmation, the bishop lays hands on you and prays for you. (You can read the prayers that he’ll use on page 418 in the Book of Common Prayer.) There’s nothing magic about this act. But it is one of the mysterious ways that God chooses to fill us with his grace. While confirmation isn’t mentioned explicitly in Scripture, it does have its roots there. For example, in Acts 8:14-17, the apostles Peter and John go to a group of newly baptized converts and lay hands on them, and they receive the Holy Spirit for the first time.
So, if you have never been confirmed in any denomination, but you are a baptized Christian and you feel like you might want to take this next step in your faith journey, pray about it. Ask God if he is calling you to this step of declaring your faith and to being strengthened to live out that faith as a part of Restoration Anglican Church.
What if you have been confirmed in another denomination? The answer is a little complicated. If you were confirmed in a denomination that has confirmation by bishops (in addition to Anglican, this usually means Lutheran and Catholic), then your confirmation transfers to the Anglican church; you don’t need to be confirmed again, and you will be “received” by the bishop into the Anglican church. If you were confirmed in another denomination, you do need to be confirmed by our bishop. (This was the case with me: I’d been confirmed in the Methodist church as a teenager, but then was confirmed by Bishop Bena as part of my commitment to the Anglican church.)
And if you’ve been confirmed in The Episcopal Church, or CANA, or another Anglican body, you don’t need to be confirmed or received… but the bishop will be happy to pray a prayer of “reaffirmation” for you when he is here!
Thoroughly confused? Feel free to ask questions and comment below; I’ll do my best to answer. And take a look at the service of confirmation in the BCP (pp. 412-419)—you’ll learn a lot about what confirmation is and why we do it!