Children in Communion

The church is beginning the process to consider the question of children taking communion.

CONSULTATION ON CHILDREN & COMMUNION

Next month there is an opportunity for us all to engage on the question of admission of
children to Holy Communion in our parish, and whether we should begin preparing children for receiving the sacrament. Our parish last reviewed this question around fifteen years ago.
Earlier this year our Church Council determined that the time was right to have a further
review.
The first step is a consultation process with the whole congregation. Parents with children aged around 7 or older are especially invited to join in this, but everyone interested is
encouraged to participate.
The consultation process will be coordinated by Asi, our Families & Children’s Minister, and myself. We will have three identical sessions, to enable maximum participation. These will take place at:

Wednesday 8th October, 11.30am
Wednesday 8th October, 7.30pm
Sunday 12th October, 9.30am

Please do come along to one of the sessions, to explore this important question.

The guidelines given by our Bishops in the last ten years have permitted and encouraged
each church to explore the nature of the sacrament and the question of who should receive, including children. In the Diocese of Southwark, the policy has been one of duality: it is right to admit children (usually children over the age of 8) to communion, but at the same time it is not wrong for any church to decide not to do so.

The issues involved in this need careful thought.

On the one hand, just as with adults, the spiritual life of baptised children may be enriched
by the receiving of Holy Communion and their sense of belonging may be affirmed and
encouraged. The church has also increasingly come to understand each person’s Baptism
as our single complete initiation into the body of Christ, as opposed to a partial or conditional initiation. It was on this understanding that, for the first 1,300 years of the life of the church, baptised children received the sacrament. It was only in the middle ages that this changed, for complex reasons, to the pattern many of us grew up with, where Confirmation became a requirement for Communion.

On the other hand, Confirmation has a continuing importance which should not be
undermined. However, questions arise which need exploring:

What preparation is required?
What level of understanding does each child have of the sacrament?

Those in turn lead to further questions about the role understanding, as such, plays in our
sacramental life – as adults as well as children. There may be a distinction to be explored
between an understanding which can be articulated precisely and verbally, and the
understanding shown in reverence and in the sense of meeting Christ in the sacrament.

We look forward to your input at the sessions. Alternatively, for those who cannot attend and wish to give input, Asi and I will be available for individual conversations.

Later in the term, after we have conducted the consultation, the Church Council will consider the views expressed and come to a decision on the next steps. We hope this process will enable us all to reflect on, and engage more deeply with this most blessed sacrament, to the enrichment of both children and adults alike, as we journey in faith together.

Useful resources for those who would like to read more:
Notes from Canterbury Diocese explaining why some parishes there have begun admitting
children to Communion:
https://www.canterburydiocese.org/media/childrenandschools/childrenandcommunion/
background.pdf
Notes from Derby Diocese laying out the issues to be considered: Admission of children to holy communion
Philip Krinks | September 2014