“When congregations approach confirmation assuming it has positive, lasting value, and focus on developmentally sound processes to prepare confirmands to make a decision that has real consequences, confirmation matters.”

— Dr. Lisa Kimball, “Building Base Camps” in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), 134.

Dr. Richard Osmer and Dr. Katie Douglass’ presentation, “Emerging Trends from the Confirmation Project.” (Wed., July 29, 2015, at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.)

“The point is to spend time contemplating our one wild and precious life, especially as individuals, but also as individuals in the community gathered. Where and when have our lives seems to have been most in tune with these vows, and where and when to and why? How do we make these vows make sense in the mystery of our lives that is still undiscovered territory? We matter. Our lives matter. Our lives in Christ matter. The process of Confirmation, or for the allied rites, is a ripe time, it seems to me, for rediscovering what that means.”

— Vicki Garvey, “Contemplating Our ‘One Wild and Precious Life’” in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), 78.

Congregational Profiles

In addition to its national survey, researchers from The Confirmation Project visited congregations, using the research method of Portraiture to understand how confirmation and equivalent practices are practiced in congregations. The following congregations and dioceses were visited from the Episcopal Church as well as some from other denominations that exemplify many best practices. Read about their story. How might you adapt some of their practices for your own context?

Camp All Saints
Pottsboro, TX (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas)

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Collingswood Presbyterian Church
Collingswood, NJ

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Confirmation Camp at Lutherlyn
Butler, PA

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The Diocese of California and St. James Episcopal Church
Oakland, CA

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The Episcopal Church of Leeds Parish
Markham, VA

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The First AME Church Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

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The Foundation for Christian Formation
Lake Junaluska, NC

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Kingston United Methodist Church
Kingston, NJ

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Peace Lutheran Church
Tacoma, WA

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River of Hope Lutheran Church
Hutchison, MN

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St. John’s Episcopal Church
Oakland, CA

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St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church
Colorado Springs, CO

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Trinity Lutheran Church
Owatonna, MN

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UMC Confirmation Camp at Lake Tahoe
King’s Beach, CA

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Zion Lutheran Church
Loveland, CO

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Mentors and Intergenerational Community Involvement

As people of the incarnation, we learn to claim our discipleship by watching those who came before us claim theirs. This involves careful selection, training, support, and accountability.

Listen to Kate Harmon Silberine in this webinar (recorded May 2016 at part of The Confirmation Project) as she explores the theological and developmental need for intergenerational mentoring in youth confirmation. She also offers some best practices to implement a program in your church.

In addition to mentoring, involving the entire congregation in the sharing of stories and learning together makes a difference for confirmands as well as the whole community.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, VA.

St. Augustine once wrote: “Formation for discipleship and mission is essential; practicing how we live out our faith, by ‘being a vehicle of Christ’s love.’” Offering opportunities to put faith into action are important elements of confirmation preparation and can continue long after any program concludes, allowing all ages to continue to be Christ’s hands, feet, and voice in the world. Here are just a few examples how service and mission can be a part of any confirmation program.

Lecture-style confirmation preparation is not effective in the 21st century. Experiential learning and creative avenues that allow youth to try-on new practices, meet new people, talk about their faith, and integrate faith in daily life are essential.

Here is a sample of best practices:

    1. Harry Potter and Confirmation” by Patricia Lyons. A great reflection about our world today in terms of how important faith formation and the impact confirmation could and should have on young people – from a Harry Potter viewpoint!
    2. The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a great activity for youth and mentors – or youth going to a family Thanksgiving gathering.
    3. 6 Fresh Ways to Teach Liturgy with Teens” by Kristin Saylor. An interesting post about engaging youth in liturgy, especially during Confirmation preparation.
    4. A One Day Youth Confirmation Retreat” by Kari Robinson
    5. Youth Activism from Search Institute. “When adults support young people as they organize to create social change, they are sharing power, one of the five elements of a developmental relationship.”
    6. Breaking The Chains: A Confirmation Lesson On Forgiveness” by Keith Anderson
    7. Burning Palms To Ashes With The Confirmation Class”  by Beth A. Richardson
    8. Our New Confirmation Class: “Create Dignity” by Stephen Rozelle
    9. Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA: “Carpe Sacramentum! Parish-Wide Formation For Confirmation, Reception, And Renewal Of Vows” by Lisa Kimball
    10. Minecraft Catechism” by Clint Schnekloth (this article is from The Christian Century, so may need a subscription to access)
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