Presbyterians Today

FEB-MAR 2018

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34 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay T his June the Presbyterian Publishing Corp. will release Big God, Big Questions: Confirmation for a Growing Faith, the newest confirmation curriculum for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is the first denominational cur- riculum to be developed considering the findings from the Confirmation Project, a Lilly-funded project that began in 2014. The project surveyed ministers, parents, mentors and youth from five North American denominations that practice infant baptism: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church. Through col- lecting and reviewing the survey data, the project identified prac- tices and strategies that help young Christians grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. The project found that con- firmation can play an important role in that growth, calling confirmation "one intentional dimension of a larger faith formation ecosystem." That system includes creating connections between confirmation and parents, households, congregations and the wider world. Reclaiming baptism's importance One of the key findings of the project is that there is an intrinsic connec- tion between baptism and confirma- tion. People who have been baptized in infancy need an opportunity to make a personal profession of their faith and the faith of the church, project organizers say. The young people are not being asked to confirm their parents' pro- fessions of faith when they brought their children to be baptized. Rather, they are being asked to claim for themselves a relationship with God and with the church that has already been established in the bap- tismal covenant. It is good to remember that con- firmation is not a ritual for joining the church, unless baptism occurs at confirmation. The baptized are already members of the church. At confirmation, youth are confirmed as active members of the church. The confirmation curriculum's purpose is to prepare young people — with help from their teachers, mentors and parents — to claim the already-established covenant made at the time of their baptism and to be embraced as active church members. The curriculm centers the students' preparation on helping them to confidently answer the baptism questions, which are once again asked at confirmation: • Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world? • Who is your Lord and Savior? • Will you be Christ's faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love? • Will you devote yourself to the church's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers? Easy-to-use lesson plans Big God, Big Questions was written by two associate pastors at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania: the Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, asso- ciate pastor for adult education and mission, and the Rev. Rachel Pedersen, associate pastor for children and family ministry. The curriculum is designed for 12 90-minute sessions or 24 45-minute sessions. Three additional "101" sessions offer teachers and students opportunities to review basics of the Bible, Reformed theology and worship. What does a session entail? In Session 2, for example, students consider the implied question — How do we know we can trust God? — in the first baptismal question, "Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways New confirmation curriculum emphasizes baptismal covenant BY MALINDA SPENCER Coming this summer

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