Children and Communion


Admission of baptized children to Holy Communion before Confirmation

The traditional practice in the Church of England is for baptized children to be Confirmed before they receive Holy Communion.

However, since 1995, an option has been available for parishes in this diocese to seek the permission of the Diocesan Bishop to allow baptized children aged 7 years and over to receive Holy Communion before Confirmation. By 2006, forty parishes in the Diocese had received this permission.
                    

New Regulations
In February 2006, General Synod approved Regulations for the Admission of Baptized Children to Holy Communion (GS 1596). These supersede the previous House of Bishops Guidelines and came into effect on 15th June 2006.

Download Regulations:
Word doc (39KB)
Adobe pdf file (75KB)

Implementation of New Regulations
Parishes who held the Bishop’s permission prior to 15/06/06 are required to re-apply under the new Regulations and have been sent forms for that purpose.

New parishes wishing to consider the possibility are asked to contact Alison Hendy (Diocesan Children's Work Adviser), 01483 484910, who will assist with the process and can put them in touch with other parishes whose experience may be helpful.

The form to apply for the Bishop’s permission is downloadable below. It highlights the areas the parish needs to consider before submitting the application.

Download application form for Bishop's permission:
Word doc (267 KB)
Adobe pdf file (56 KB)


Process:

  1. The incumbent and the PCC have to pass a resolution in support of admitting children to Holy Communion, before the Bishop’s permission is sought.
    1. In order to reach that point there needs to be considerable consultation:
      1. It is essential to spend time exploring the issues widely and to consult with parents, children’s leaders and the wider congregation. At each stage it is vital that as many people as possible are involved in the discussions.
      2. If the church is part of a Local Ecumenical Partnership, the other partners have to be consulted.
      3. Theological, pastoral and practical issues need to be considered.
    2. The advice of the Diocesan Children’s Adviser should be sought.
    3. It is wise to draw upon the experience of parishes already admitting children.
       
  2. Plans need to put in place for:
    1. The preparation of the children, the adults having parental responsibility for them, and the wider congregation
    2. The children’s on-going nurture towards Confirmation
       
  3. The Bishop will need to know that the appropriate procedures have been observed in accordance with the House of Bishops Regulations, and that the required consultation with the Diocesan Children's Work Adviser (DCWA) has taken place. Therefore  the application form should be completed and sent to Alison Hendy (DCWA) who will forward it to the Bishop of Guildford for his consideration.
     
  4. Once permission has been received from the Bishop, the following practical arrangements should be made for the Admission of Children to Communion:
    1. The children's baptism should be authenticated
    2. A date set for the first occasion, to be marked appropriately within the normal service (see above)
    3. Parents and godparents invited to attend
    4. Either the children’s baptism certificates or a separate certificate prepared in order to carry the necessary information (see above)
    5. A parish register prepared to keep a list of the names of children admitted to Holy Communion before Confirmation and the date of their first admission.

 

Resources
The Resource Centre at The Education Centre holds copies of published materials designed to assist in the preparation of children to receive Holy Communion.

Register and Certificates
The new regulations require that each child admitted to Holy Communion must have their name and date of first admission entered in a parish register for that purpose. This register has to be made available for inspection by the Archdeacon.

Also each child must be given written evidence that they have been admitted to Holy Communion. The place and date of their first Communion, and the incumbent’s signature may be added to their baptism certificate – or they may be given a certificate designed for the purpose. The diocese has prepared a Certificate for use in this circumstance (212KB pdf file). (File contains two alternatives)

Rite of Admission
The Diocesan Worship Committee has prepared guidelines and a short rite which can be included in the service to mark the first occasion that children receive. Printed copies are available from The Education Centre, or can be downloaded (pdf file 137KB). (This pdf file is formatted for double-sided printing on A4, ready for folding to produce an A5 booklet (i.e. page 2 of the booklet is printed opposite page 11 etc))

Alternatively, Common Worship : Initiation , published by Church House Publishing, contains a rite for use on such occasions. Rites on the Way also contains this rite.

The Diocesan Children’s Work Adviser supports parishes that admit children to Holy Communion and is available for information and advice.

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