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Affirmation of Baptism and Confirmation

Sometimes, people feel the need to make an important step of personal commitment many years after they were baptised and confirmed, and feel the need for this to be acknowledged before the Church in a corporate setting. The new liturgies provide for exactly such a 'public affirmation of baptismal faith', including the use of water.

An affirmation rite can be incorporated into a confirmation according to pastoral circumstances, as agreed in advance with the confirming Bishop, or used instead within the regular worship of a parish.

Providing it is clear that there can be no rebaptism (because baptism is once for all and because God's grace and call are always theologically prior to our response), candidates may themselves affirm their previous baptism, in water, either by sprinkling, using the sign of the cross with water, by walking through the pool or by full immersion.

Where the latter is the preferred option, the person affirming their baptism may be assisted by one or two people in the water, but those assistants must not say anything because those affirming have already spoken for themselves immediately prior to going into the pool (using the form of words found in Christian Initiation under the section 'Declaration for Affirmation'). In other words, they are doing this for themselves, whereas at a baptism, it is the Church which baptises. Nevertheless, the fact that they may go under the water, or use the water in other ways, can make real for them, in the present, the sign of the gracious act of God in baptism which, for them, may otherwise be felt to be too distant.

At a confirmation service, this affirmation can be made with those being confirmed, with the particular form of words indicating renewal. The Bishop may both lay-on hands and anoint the person who is affirming, even if they have previously been confirmed. Once again, a Christian may renew his or her faith by re-appropriating the sign, though the words spoken by the Bishop are different, so that the principle of the unfailing (and therefore unrepeatable) nature of God's call is also protected.