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The article this piece links to was published in the October 2006 issue of The Interdependent.

Confirmation: Two Different Experiences

First of all, I want to start by saying that I found the whole process of Confirmtion, from the first “taster” session in the local church, right up to the day, very challenging, difficult and at times stressful!

Getting confirmed was Two different experiencesdecisions I’ve made so far in my life. I was unsure about which way my decision would swing almost right up to the very day.

I started taking confirmation “lessons” in March and took the plunge in June so I had plenty of time to think about it. I’ll be honest in admitting that around May I was seriously thinking about simply finishing the sessions and not getting confirmed at all. But through talking about the issue with friends and family, I finally came to the decision to go ahead with the confirmation and I’m glad now that I did. It was a decision I did not want to take lightly and I felt that at the end if I wasn’t 100% sure of myself I would not do it. I later realised that this perhaps was a slightly foolish point of view , for not many people can say with all honesty, that they are always 100% sure of God or religion or their own beliefs. So on that bright Sunday morning I still had my doubts and worries about whether I was ready but I went on my gut feeling that I was doing the right thing, and I've always been encouraged by gut feelings!

My sessions were led by a priest of the church where we were taking the sessions and a deacon (now a priest) of the same parish. The sessions were challenging and made you think about where you stood in relation to your own beliefs, something I’d never had to do before. They were not lectures on the bible, or lessons on Christian tradition; but more open discussion about morals, opinions and ideas on how to not just be a better Christian but a better person. The priest, Mike, an ex naval officer and scientist had a rather logical if not scientific point of view, that was interesting if not occasionally difficult to follow (and who says science and religion can’t get on!). Gary the Deacon, about 6 foot 6 and a handshake that made the knees buckle, had a much more simple way of explaining things and would simplify it for the “common man”! It was great to have two, so different blokes explaining some very complicated ideas and it gave you two different points of view to consider. Considering and thinking was something I would do a lot over the weeks of the lessons and I often found myself havingamoralbattlewithmyselfatschool, oblivious to everything else, although apparently I was not alone in this as a very good mate who I did the confirmation sessions with said he experienced similar thoughts.Ithinkit’shealthyforladsmyage to be thinking about their faith and beliefs.

On the actual day of my confirmation I was pretty nervous,but I’d had a rehearsal a few days before, so there wasn’t much chance of me doing something too stupid! I wore a shirt and even put on some religious bling! (a crucifix). When I arrived, all the confirmation candidates sat at the front, there were about 20 of us in all from different churches and of different ages ranging from sixteen to seventy! The bishop of Portsmouth was taking the service and he took all of us behind the altar where he gave us a “pep talk” and reassured my anxieties about not being 100% sure, by saying that the journey has really just begun and these uncertainties are useful for us to grow in our faith.

The service was an interesting one, for the bishop is another huge bloke and very charismatic and to the point. He talked of how he overcame Leukaemia and how his faith was that much stronger not only after, but during this experience. When the time came for me to make my declaration and I was anointed with the holy oil I felt like I had definitely made the right decision and felt good about it. When the service had ended and the bishop made his way down the aisle, he started twirling his hand carved, hardwood crook, which everyone obviously thought was great fun, although on the next twirl he missed decapitating an old lady by an inch and cracked his pole into the pew behind her. He gave a sheepish smile but no more twirls! I had a chat with the bishop afterwards over a glass of champers and he gave me some more advice on my progression as Christian and young person. Sadly that great bloke is back in hospital, his Leukaemia having returned, and I ask you to pray for his return to good health.

After it was all over we had a get together at our house with my godfather, my prayer partner (from my first communion in the Catholic church) and two very close friends, all of whom attended the service. It was a good day, which I think I will remember for a very long time and feel very glad I went through with it, despite my doubts.

PS: I was confirmed into the Anglican church.

Julian Granger-Bevan in "Confirmation: Two Different Experiences" in The Interdependent, October 2006