Two weekends ago, we had the first confirmation service for many years, although for practical reasons it was a joint service with 3 other churches rather than a service just for us in one of our own church buildings. 7 young people from our Kemsing and Woodlands church family joined with candidates from Knockholt and Halstead, Riverhead and St Nicholas Sevenoaks in St Nicholas' church building for a service of Communion with Confirmation led by the Bishop of Maidstone, Rt Revd Rod Thomas.
The young people had been prepared for their confirmation in two stages. Before Christmas, they went through the basics of the Christian faith using the CY Course as part of our T7 club. These were open sessions, and they were joined by a number of others who chose not to be confirmed for a variety of reasons. Those who wished to be confirmed then finished their preparation with some additional sessions just for them early this year.
Before the service, the candidates had tea in the Undercroft of St Nicholas, giving the bishop a chance to meet them. The service itself was long (at only just under 2 hours), but full of people and full of joy. A highlight of the service was each candidate being given the opportunity to share briefly a little of their own story and how they came to faith and to confirmation. The 36 candidates completed this in about 20 minutes, and it was a great encouragement to hear of God's faithfulness in one story after another. There were further refreshments after the service, which was attended by many supporters from our church family, and also the families of those being confirmed.
Yesterday, the Sunday following the confirmation, we welcomed the 7 in our Combined Service. Deb, our children's and youth worker, had produced a 5 minute video with the 7 to give them another way to share the material that had gone into their individual testimonies. We handed each of them a book as a gift to mark their confirmation, and also their certificates, before they took Communion in our own church for the first time. After the service, we enjoyed a selection of cakes over our coffee time, to celebrate this milestone in the lives of our young people.