The Parish Priest will need to have prepared the PCC and people in advance of the formal decision of the PCC. The PCC must not take this decision without due consideration. The Children's Officer, or a deputy, should be invited to the PCC as a consultant.
After the PCC has agreed to the principle, a three to six month programme of preparation should be initiated. This should include preparatory sessions primarily with:
- The children who are affected
- Their parents and families (and, if possible, their Godparents)
- Leaders of all children's and young people's organisations in the church
- Schools - especially church schools
- Lay leadership - Wardens, PCC members, MU leadership, etc. The Education Dept is available to provide support in achieving this
A date should be fixed for the church to welcome the children to communion. The Worship Committee has produced a simple rite for use on such occasions and an alternative is available in Common Worship: Initiation Services.
The church calendar should include a regular occasion (annual or less frequently) for welcoming children duly prepared.
The parish will need to ensure that the on-going Programme for the nurture and education of these children, leading them to confirmation and into adult membership of the Church, continues. This is an opportunity for the Parish to develop and build on its strategy for including children and young people in the whole life of the Church and to use this as a basis for ministry to children and young people and their families in the Parish.
The Regulations prepared by the House of Bishops and passed by General Synod in 2006 (GS 1596A) should be studied and followed. Copies are available from the Children and Families Ministry Adviser..
Neither children nor adults can be admitted to Holy Communion in the Church of England before they have been baptised.
Parents should be encouraged to bring their children to baptism as the gate of entry into the life of the Church of God. This may need the provision of bridging ministries to families which help them move into the life of the Church.
It is vital that parents are made aware of the process of Christian nurture provided in the Parish, both for their children and for themselves.
For children, three elements need considering:
- The direct provision by the Church of teaching, fellowship and recreation
- The help given to parents to bring their children up as Christians within the home
- The character of the education provided in local schools
There is a pastoral task to be undertaken with each family. Here we accept that as each parish is different, so each family is unique and so none should be surprised at the need for variety in custom and practice.
This is an opportunity to strengthen our links with schools and ensure that the work we do builds on the work done in the schools. The Board of Education can help in ensuring that we are aware of the content and character of RE in all schools in the Diocese.
Parishes will need to reflect upon:
- How people are prepared for and supported in the parental role and task
- How the Church becomes a place where children and young people are listened to and heard, encouraged to think through and own their own faith, and feel themselves to be part of the body of Christ
- How the Church grows as an inclusive community. In this instance, moving from an atmosphere of being an adult institution to which children and young people go, towards becoming a community where all people find their home in Christ
- Young people who have discovered the riches of the Christian tradition and taken it to themselves in personal faith. In this, there will be the discovery of the foundations of spirituality in prayer and worship, a deepening understanding of the faith and a development of Christian vision for the shaping of human life in the future
- A Church whose sacramental life has been enriched and whose links with the emerging worlds of children and young people have been greatly strengthened
Contacts and Resources
Parishes should consult the Children and Families Ministry Adviser for advice on preparation programmes and the on-going nurture of children and their families. The Children and Families Ministry Adviser can also provide details of parishes that admit children to Communion.
Published preparation programmes and related materials are available for inspection and borrowing in the Resources Room at the Education Centre.
The Worship Committee has produced a Rite of Admission authorised for use in the Diocese. There is also material for admission in Common Worship: Initiation Services as well as other material for marking the spiritual journey of children and 'others along the Way'.