Methodist Confirmation

Methodist Confirmation

 “Confirmation ties together God’s act in Christ and our response in faith. It reminds us of the power of the community of faith and promises the presence of the Spirit on our journey,” (OC, p. 31).
Confirmation in the Methodist Church is considered a rite of baptized individuals to recognize the work of God's grace and to embrace being a disciple. Candidates to be confirmed take class covering Christian Doctrine, Theology, UMC history, stewardship, basic bible study and others.

In the early United Methodist church baptism and confirmation were taken at the same time.  During the Middle Ages the two rites separated because of church government.  The practice became that parish priests could baptize but only a bishop could confirm.  Over time it became more and more difficult for the bishops to be available so the church continued to baptize but waited until the bishops were present to confirm their members.
           
In the United Methodist Church, Confirmation is a sacrament, an outward visible act representing the inward, invisible act of the Holy Spirit upon participants.    With the Protestant Reformation leaders of the church began to limit their definition of a sacrament to practices actually initiated by Jesus Christ.  That is, baptism and communion.  The Catholic and Orthodox Churches continued to interpret confirmation as a sacrament but the Protestant denominations began to deem baptism alone as sufficient initiation.  The Protestant denominations created a 'catechism', a Methodist Confirmation curriculum or summary of principles children must learn before they were allowed the sacrament of communion. 
           
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley believed that confirmation as a catechism or time of instruction was not needed.
           
However, distinctive United Methodist theology emphasizes the need for justifying grace, repentance, and conversion later in life.  So, during the 1960's the Methodist Church began to practice confirmation once again.  Since 1988 a greater understanding and fruitful understanding of baptism and confirmation have taken place. 
           
Today the United Methodist Church recognizes baptism as a sacrament, an outward sign of inner grace and initiation into Christ's church.  Infants are baptized with a sprinkling of holy water only once.  Also, baptism in other religions is recognized. 
           
Confirmation is recognized as an act of the Holy Spirit in which the Holy Spirits works in helping the recipients to be disciples.  Methodist Confirmation received at early adolescence is considered to be one of the first significant moments in which an individual can affirm the faith into which they were baptized. 
           
In the United Methodist Church baptism is received only once.  Confirmation, on the other hand can be repeated as it allows a person of the faith to witness and to celebrate new forms of the ministry.


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