Here’s the situation: It’s Confirmation Sunday. You have multiple worship services. You can’t have a combined service because everyone won’t fit into the sanctuary at the same time (plus we all know what happens when you try to combine contemporary and traditional worship). How does the whole congregation get to see and celebrate this wonderful event? My friend Rev. Dr. Jack Stephenson (Anona UMC, Largo FL) made a brilliant suggestion, divide the liturgy so the confirmands do a different portion at each worship service.
This past Sunday we confirmed 8 terrific young people over the course of three worship services: an 8am traditional service, a 9:20am contemporary service, and an 11am traditional service. Dividing the liturgy worked beautifully. Here’s how the schedule worked out:
The confirmands and their families gather for a light breakfast.
They enter worship just before the closing hymn to take the first portion of their vows. In these vows, they publically accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and express their commitment to be a faithful member of Christ’s universal church. (United Methodist Hymnal pages 33-35, #1-8) They are greeted by the congregation following the service and have a short break before the beginning of the next service.
The contemporary service begins. Opening song, announcements, and then the second portion of the vows. In these vows, they profess the core Christian beliefs (the Apostles’ Creed) and either receive Baptism or renew their Baptismal Vows. (United Methodist Hymnal pages 35-37, #9-12) Everyone greets one another and the confirmands as they return to their seat. The confirmands and their families remain for the rest of the worship service and are again greeted by the congregation following the service.
Break time and picture time. Confirmands are greeted as people arrive for the third service.
The service begins. Opening song, announcements, and then the last portion of the vows. In these vows, they make commitments to the United Methodist Church and the local congregation. (United Methodist Hymnal pages 38-39, #14-16) Everyone greets one another and the confirmands as they exit the service.
Get Your Geek On: United Methodists baptize persons of all ages. In the case of infants and small children, baptism recognizes that God knows the child, loves the child, has a plan for the child, is already at work in that child’s life, and that he/she is a welcome part of God’s family. There is always an expectation that one day they will “accept God’s grace for themselves, profess their faith openly, and lead a Christian life.”
Confirmation is when persons “confirm” (publically accept for themselves) the vows made on their behalf at their baptism. For older persons who are not already baptized, this happens at the same time they are baptized. It is also the time when a person becomes a full member of the church, accepting the responsibilities to represent Christ and remain connected to Christ and the church through their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
For more information on what United Methodists believe about baptism, click here
For more information on what United Methodist believe about confirmation, click here