Confirming older members

Confirming older members

In leading aged care services, I am privileged to encounter many wonderful moments with the residents as we do church. I want to share one event which has left an impression on both myself and the congregation to whom I have been ministering for the last five years. Following a discussion on baptism, a member of the congregation approached me prior to the next service asking is she could be baptised. In asking a few follow-up questions it was revealed that she had in fact already been baptised and therefore the discussion progressed to confirmation.

As other members of the congregation arrived for worship, this conversation continued with many of the congregation sharing that they were unsure as to whether they had been confirmed in 13 age years or not. What ensued was that the whole congregation (10 people) all decided that they wished to be confirmed or to renew their confirmation vows. 

Entering this, the next five services worked through the Apostles’ Creed, concluding in a confirmation service that allowed for two paths to be taken.  The first for those who wanted to be confirmed for the first time, and the second for those who wanted to simply re-affirm their commitment to their faith. 

One confirmee, visibly moved by the experience, shared that upon hearing the offer of being confirmed announced some five weeks earlier, she has gone home to her unit and burst into tears, having thought that the opportunity of participating in this ritual, had passed her by; that she would never have in her lifetime, the opportunity to be confirmed.  

This experience has led me to reflect on two matters. Firstly, as a church we have no rituals that are readily identifiable as applicable to our elder members. We have the sacrament of baptism and the ritual of confirmation, but these are both thought of a ‘early’ age events. We give little thought to how older members of our congregations can engage into  

Flowing from this, so often we can be guilty of presuming that the faith of an older member of the congregation is as old as they are. Yet it has been my experience that for several older members of my congregation, particularly those who have recently connected with church, they are after many years of being absent, either discovering or re-awakening their faith. 

I have come to realise that confirmation to older members allows them the opportunity to proclaim anew their faith.

Geoffrey Battle


Forster / Tuncurry Uniting Church



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