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Confirmations (Church guidance)

Every Confirmation is a delight and a privilege for the Bishop and for those who preside alongside him. The intention is to produce a memorable service for the candidates and an inspiration to those who come to support them on these special occasions.

Please read the information below to help ensure these Services run smoothly.

Confirmation dates:

Confirmation services are held throughout the year. Sometimes they are just for a particular parish or chaplaincy, other times, churches come together and hold deanery confirmation services. To arrange a date for a confirmation service, please contact the Bishop’s PA, Judy Porter. Please note, the bishops prefer, in normal circumstances, to confirm a number of candidates together. Once you have a date the Bishops’ Chaplain, Jo Winn-Smith, will liaise with you on the content of the service.

You can access theses date on our calendar here

Guidance for services

At least one month before the Confirmation

Giving notice if your candidates will be confirmed at another Church

Clergy wishing to present candidates in another Church should give the incumbent notice, with any necessary details of the candidates. Where it appears that there may be fewer than five candidates for a confirmation, the Incumbent should inform the confirming Bishop, who may wish to cancel the confirmation and ask the Incumbent to take the candidates to another confirmation.

Advance details for the Bishop

Incumbents are asked to send to the confirming Bishop the details (including questions such as baptism and affirmation) of the proposed order of service, including hymns, and the number of candidates. The collect and readings should also be agreed with the Bishop. They should normally be the principal service readings, if the confirmation takes place on a Sunday or Festival, rather than those provided specifically for initiation services.

Diocesan Order of Service
Preparing the registers and other documentation for the day

The confirmation register and the 'Confirmation summary and declaration' form should be made available to the Bishop before the service starts. For the latter, ask the Area Dean, who should have a supply. The baptism register of the Church in which the service takes place should be filled in if a baptism takes place in the service.

Cards signed by the Bishop are available from Church House Guildford, GU2 7YF. Their use is encouraged as this avoids the Bishop having to sign cards or books after the service.

Preparing candidates for the Eucharist

Deanery confirmations take place in the context of the Eucharist. It is fitting that those who are initiated into the fullness of the Christian faith should receive Communion from the Bishop who is the presiding minister in the whole process of Christian Initiation. It is important, therefore, that candidates should be prepared for this and instructed in how to receive Holy Communion. It is appropriate for children to have tasted un-consecrated bread (whether leavened or unleavened) and wine, so that this is not a totally novel experience at their first Holy Communion. This applies also to those receiving Holy Communion before confirmation.

Queries on dress code

There is, nowadays, no dress code for confirmations. Girls need not wear white and head-dresses should not be worn.

The Confirmation

The importance of rehearsal

Confirmation essentially includes the prayer for the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit preceding the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands itself may take place in a group or groups at the communion rail (or an equivalent place if this is not convenient): alternatively, candidates may come up in pairs to kneel before the Bishop.

Whichever method is used, there needs to be a full, detailed and careful rehearsal in order that all candidates know exactly what is expected of them.

How to ensure stillness at the laying on of hands
How to present the candidates
Briefing candidates about their ‘Amen’

It is important that candidates should be rehearsed in saying their 'Amen' to the words the Bishop uses at the laying on of hands.

This 'Amen' is intended to be said by the candidate as his or her seal and affirmation of the confirmation prayer, but frequently the congregation will want to join in this 'Amen' to show support for what is taking place and this practice is to be encouraged.

Length of Service

Services which may include baptism and other rites in the context of the Eucharist need not be over-long if care is taken in the number of hymns or songs and their length (or repetition); the number of readings and the judicious editing of the available options (e.g. the commission and prayers of intercession may be omitted); a carefully-thought-out plan for the administration of the Sacrament and the consumption of what is left over; and an efficient preparation and marshalling of the candidates.

The Bishop's Chaplain is available to consult about liturgical matters including the use of space and the finalising of the service booklet. Organists or Music group leaders need to be guided as to what is appropriate for Christian Initiation. Lengthy anthems or repeated worship songs must be avoided. On the other hand, a good organist or music group may greatly enhance the actual confirmation with quiet 'Spirit' music, even at the time of the confirmation itself. This should only be attempted after consultation with the confirming Bishop.

Assisting the Bishop with his staff

It is helpful if a member of the clergy, a LLM (Reader) or server present, can act as the Bishop's Chaplain for this task. The Chaplain will need to take the Bishop's staff when he reaches his chair and place it somewhere safely (not on the holy table) until it is needed. 

The Bishop will normally require the staff when processing, from the presentation of the candidates until after their confirmation, and for the final blessing. He may also ask the Chaplain to stand close by, on his left, in order to give and receive the staff, (so the Chaplain should hold the staff in his or her left hand, with the crook facing inwards). Either the Chaplain or a server may also be asked to hold the Bishop's book or a card when the Bishop needs to use both hands for liturgical gestures.

Baptisms at Confirmations

If there are candidates to be baptised as well as confirmed, it cannot be too strongly emphasised that this should take place at the time of the actual confirmation. Moreover, baptism is about admission into the Universal Church and not simply into the local community. The Bishop is, therefore, the normal minister of adult baptisms, representing this wider dimension of the Church; the presenting minister is asked to make the sign of the cross (with the oil of baptism, if desired).

The Bishops are happy to baptise by immersion where this is the custom of the Church. Otherwise, the main font should be used, where possible, and plenty of water available, for baptism is not a dabbing or sprinkling, but a flowing or pouring of water onto the candidate. 
Although water may be put into the font before the service, it is important for there to be some water to be poured into the font at the time when the water is blessed, so that the congregation can both hear and see that this is 'living water'.

It is important that all members of the congregation have copies of the appropriate texts to follow and the candidates should have been clearly instructed in what to expect.

Collections at Confirmations

Collections at Confirmations are taken for the Bishop of Guildford's Community Fund.

The Community Fund supports projects that address needs at a local level with the support of local churches, and are committed to their local communities.

The Bishop of Guildford's Community Fund relies on donations to continue its work. Read more about it, including stories of some of the wonderful work that has benefited from the Fund.

Ecumenical Confirmation Services

An ecumenical confirmation service has now been agreed between the Guildford Diocese and local Methodist Churches. This is available in hard copy from the Bishops of Guildford's office and must be used where it has been agreed that a joint service will take place.


If the information above has not answered your queries about Confirmations, please contact the Revd Jo Winn-Smith, Chaplain to the Bishop of Guildford who would be happy to advise.

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