Thursday, January 3, 2013

Youth Confirmation: a family experience

The Hulbert family
Just after Christmas, all those interested in confirmation, reception, exploring their faith or learning about the Episcopal Church have the opportunity to sign up for the class What is an Episcopalian? at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

 My husband Doug and I took the class in 2011, even though we were confirmed long ago and even though Doug spent two years in an Episcopal seminary, because our son Gabriel decided to be confirmed.  The Cathedral’s process for youth confirmation includes a component providing for family attendance at this class.

The process also includes weekly independent study by the youth and family and biweekly meetings among the youth, his family and Christine D’Amico, the Children, Youth and Families Director. This was not the typical approach to confirmation, but after Gabe was confirmed all of us agreed it was the best possible path, strengthening faith and family through a unique process.

Doug and I enjoyed the What is an Episcopalian? class thoroughly--learning about and discussing the Episcopal Church, the Bible and theology every week, with interesting and engaged people and excellent teachers-what could be better? We enjoyed fellowship with the other attendees, many of whom have become fast friends.

Gabe Hulbert with Bishop Mathes
following confirmation
Even more, we enjoyed the process of exploring our faith-and his-with Gabe, as we watched him engage at the class and discuss what he had learned each week with us.

 At home we read and did exercises in a book for teenaged confirmation candidates provided by St. Paul’s. Besides containing information for Gabe to read on his own, the book included weekly activities requiring family participation, including composing a family psalm, writing family prayers for specific occasions, watching-and discussing- the film Godspell together, and reading and discussing the Gospel of Luke during an 8-week period.

Every two weeks, Gabe, Doug and I met with Christine after church to discuss Gabe's progress, another great experience because we got to hear Gabe articulate what he learned from the class, readings and activities--what he liked and didn't. These activities enriched our faith lives and strengthened our family in ways we did not imagine when we began the process.

In fact, a goal for St. Paul’s youth programs is to unite families in the midst of a world filled with so many means to fracture them, supporting and sustaining families as they explore scripture, theology and the church, and deepen their faith.

The distinctive approach to youth confirmation at St. Paul’s intentionally promotes family time, encourages family faith development, and allows family members to talk with each other about God and faith and church. We are looking forward to January 9, when we will begin the journey to confirmation again, this time with our son Benjamin, at the first meeting of What is an Episcopalian?

Susan Hulbert

Join us for our annual What Is An Episcopalian? class which begins NEXT WEEK--Wednesday evening, January 9th (6pm - 8pm). The 11 week course not only provides the background, history and traditions of the Episcopal Church, it also provides an opportunity to examine your own spiritual and religious views, make long-lasting friendships, think deeply about what it means to be a Christian in today's world--not to mention have a lot of fun! This is also the class to take if you are interested in confirmation, baptism or being formally received into the Episcopal Church at the Easter Vigil.

Register online here.

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