Becoming a Communicant
BECOMING A COMMUNICANT
ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, ASCOT HEATH
This Policy is predominantly concerned with children but also includes some related points, that is, consideration of adults and those with learning disabilities.
BECOMING A COMMUNICANT.
“For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12 .12
A. THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND.
1. The sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist are our Lord’s gifts to the Church as it seeks to follow him and discover God’s kingdom in the world.
2. In Baptism we are assured that we are God’s children and become part of the Body of Christ, the Church. Sacramentally we die with Christ, so that we may rise with him. The sacrament of Baptism is received once and cannot be repeated. Although Confirmation offers an additional opportunity to experience God’s grace, it does not make up anything which is lacking in Baptism.
3. The Eucharist is essentially a mystery which even the most sophisticated human minds cannot fully comprehend, but we believe it is given to us as food for our journey through life. It is an encounter, in bread and wine, with our crucified, risen and ascended Lord. It binds Christ’s people together in love. It offers a foretaste of the heavenly joy that we believe is God’s will for his people.
4. The Church of England is beginning to recognise what Christians of other traditions have long known: that there are no valid theological grounds for requiring that the baptised must also be confirmed before they may share fully in the Eucharist.
5. We at All Saints welcome the opportunity to include children in the Eucharist which we believe is their birthright as members of Christ’s body. We recognise that the church has a responsibility to guide them on their way as they grow in this awareness.
6. As is always the case, one is in full communion on receiving either the bread or the wine or both.
B. PARISH POLICY.
We want to hold as very precious the sense that the Eucharist is God’s open, free gift to all the baptised and does not have to be earned or deserved. However, we also recognise that it is imperative on all Christians to receive the Eucharist in a manner consonant with its significance.
Our desire, therefore, is to enable the point of entry into communicant membership to be as open as possible, alongside effective and relevant ongoing support and nurture for parents and children. This is driven by our conviction that children learn first of all by “doing” and by following example, absorbing the unspoken lessons, and then benefit from reflection on what they are doing.
1. Becoming a Communicant:
1.1 We believe that age should not be the determining factor. Children should be enabled to become communicants when they and their parents feel that they are ready.
1.2 We believe that, ideally, at least one parent should attend church regularly and be a communicant member, in order that the child has a supportive environment at home. Where this is not the case a suitable sponsor would be appointed, parental permission having been given.
1.3 Evidence will need to be shown of the child’s Baptism; the Baptismal certificate will be endorsed when he/she becomes a communicant and this will also be recorded in the Baptismal Register.
1.4 Those who are already communicants cannot be excluded from receiving Communion anywhere in the Church of England. They will therefore be provided with a letter explaining their communicant status if they move to another parish.
1.5 Adults wishing to receive Communion before confirmation will be welcome to do so after conversation with the clergy, in which they will be encouraged to seek confirmation at the first opportunity and join an appropriate nurture programme.
1.6 Baptised people with learning difficulties will similarly be offered appropriate nurture programmes suitable for their needs.
The support provided for children is just one aspect of this church’s role to support all in their spiritual journey.
2.1 We are committed to providing an ongoing programme of nurture for individual children and their families to enable the development of a child’s faith, spirituality and sense of belonging. At present this is delivered by:
· Mini-mass-age 0-4 years
· Saints Alive-3-11 years ( this includes support at church and at home)
· The Bridge-9-12 years
· Fusion and Infusion-11+ years
· Saints Together-monthly all-age service.
· Appropriate preparation for those taking Communion for the first time.
2.2 In becoming communicants children enter into communion and fellowship with a journeying community as we pray, worship, learn, love and laugh together.
3. Implications for Worship:
3.1 Once children are communicants they will be welcome to receive Holy Communion at every Eucharist they attend. We recognise that children who become communicants need to be involved in the whole
Eucharistic liturgy: the taking, blessing, breaking and sharing and not just the receiving of bread and wine.
4.1 We see Confirmation as a bringing into consciousness and a public expression of what has already been received in Baptism.
4.2 As Confirmation will no longer be the gateway to receiving Communion, we hope that this will give Confirmation even greater significance in its own right.
4.3 There will be no fixed age for Confirmation; it will depend on the candidate’s desire for it, but we would expect it to be at some time during the secondary school years. A young person who has become a communicant and has not sought Confirmation by the age of sixteen will be encouraged to consider it, but will in any case continue to receive.
We aim to ensure that the church gives and the candidates receive the support and training appropriate to the stage of their Christian journey.
1. Parents and children will have a conversation with one of the clergy or LLMs and an information form will be completed.
2. A structured preparation session will be given to parents and children prior to receiving for the first time, probably after the service on a Sunday morning or after Mini-mass.
3. On the first occasion a child receives Communion we shall pray for him/her by name in the intercessions, but otherwise attention will not be drawn to him/her.
4. In Saints Alive and the Bridge, children are enabled to encounter the mystery of God through story and liturgy. The significance of the Eucharist is woven into many of these stories.
5. Older children will be encouraged to discuss their needs directly with the clergy and to consider whether they should be prepared for Confirmation. Separate classes or mentoring arrangements may be needed.