At Effingham with Little Bookham Parish we prepare children from the age of 5 to receive communion, even though they are yet to be confirmed. If you would like your child to be part of the next preparation group, please contact Reverend Mandy:

Jesus said:

Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me”.

If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.

Why we encourage communion before confirmation

  • In the early Church the three Sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist—were celebrated in the same ceremony by adult catechumens at the Easter Vigil.
  • From c. 3rd century, as more children became Christians, everyone shared the rites including communion.
  • Theologian Augustine developed the doctrine of original sin. Young babies needed quick baptisms, therefore Parish Priests baptised rather than the Bishop.
  • When the Bishop eventually visited he ‘confirmed’ the baptism with the laying on of hands.
  • To this day the Eastern churches initiate with all three sacraments at once.
  • Some people today still look on Confirmation as the sacrament of maturity. But this sacrament does not imply that the candidate is completely mature in the faith. Through it, the confirmed person is strengthened for this lifelong journey.
  • The main reason why the West separated the sacrament of Confirmation from that of Baptism was to re-establish direct contact between the people being initiated with the bishops.

The Church of England first recommended admitting children to communion in 1971 in a report entitled: Christian Initiation: Birth and growth in the Christian Society.

  • The report concluded that baptism is complete initiation into the Christian Community, There is nothing more that has to be done before a person is fully a member of the church. Confirmation does not complete Baptism in the sense that Baptism left something incomplete.
  • The report, therefore, stated that confirmation is not essentially part of Christian initiation. Instead, it is a pastoral rite and a declaration of mature Christian discipleship.
  • By separating Confirmation from First Communion, its significance is enhanced, as it becomes an act of personal commitment and commissioning.
  • Confirmation then becomes a means of grace and strengthening rather than a goal to be attained at the conclusion of a course of instruction.