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Something like first communion for CofE?

(24 Posts)
drspouse Mon 05-Feb-18 10:20:10

We started at a new CofE church which is very family friendly - great stuff - both DCs seem to like it (though I suspect the 6yo may be slightly attracted by the sweets at Sunday School!).
However, all the children seem to take communion - even down to some preschoolers. My DS is very confused why another child in his class at school (Y1) is taking communion and he isn't. So far "that's what his parents have decided, your Mummy and Daddy decided you shouldn't" is also just confusing him.
I am not sure where this tradition has come from as I thought it was CofE standard to only take communion after confirmation, probably around Y6 time.
Is anyone aware of a tradition/service/blessing for a very slightly younger child (I think it's around 8 in RC churches isn't it?) for CofE?
I am very much of the "we never really understand what communion means, as it's beyond us" and if we had a child with severe learning disabilities I wouldn't expect them to fully understand before taking communion (and ditto baptism, both were baptised as babies).
But I would like there to be SOME preparation, and hopefully a marking of the occasion. Preferably not just by us but if that's what it takes then that's fine!
I don't think we have much chance of him waiting till confirmation, so a point to aim for in the not too distant future would be good.

NannyR Mon 05-Feb-18 13:33:42

In our Anglican church children can be prepared for "first communion" when they are around 8 or 9. They have some classes and receive communion as part of the annual baptism and confirmation service.

Are the preschoolers actually taking communion or just going up for a blessing?

drspouse Mon 05-Feb-18 13:38:43

Some of them appear to be taking communion - certainly DS' friend was taking it last year in YR before he was 5 (we didn't know him before that).
There are two preschoolers who are in Sunday School who go up for a blessing, but I've seen other preschoolers take it and the, er, communion administrators have tried to give it to DD (aged 3) before because she always puts her hands on the rail (whereas continual prompting of DS means he almost always puts his hands down. Of course this means that sometimes if he's in a contrary mood he does put his hands up - and the holder of the bread/wine sometimes misreads this). I have to say "no" or shake my head forcefully sometimes, especially with DD.

Do you have any links to liturgy/preparation? If this is a "thing" (rather than just allowing all and sundry to take it without preparation) maybe I can ask the vicar.

It's not advertised/publicised and I've never come across it before, and it isn't the case at the local church we used to go to - I remember asking a Brownie parent whether they'd be taking communion if we were at a Mothering Sunday service we'd been invited to take part in, and the parent said no, it was a year 6 or secondary school thing.

NannyR Mon 05-Feb-18 13:52:29

I think you would be best having a chat with your vicar. C of E churches vary so much in how high or low church they are, some are almost like a Catholic mass, others are very informal. I don't have any links as I'm not really involved in preparing the children for communion or confirmation.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Mon 05-Feb-18 17:33:05

Yes ask the vicar. Some churches allow children who are baptised and have been through a mini course/preparation to take communion before they are confirmed. I've taken two churches through this and I'm about to start on my third. Generally children take communion from the age of 7ish and it means that they go through confirmation as adults rather than at year 6 or 7.

isittheholidaysyet Tue 06-Feb-18 00:25:49

I've also seen it. It is a think. I would guess in more 'catholic' CofE churches.
I believe once a child has been admitted to communion, s/he is then able to receive even if they move to a church which doesn't practice admittance to communion before confirmation.

isittheholidaysyet Tue 06-Feb-18 00:26:30

It's a thing Not think.

drspouse Tue 06-Feb-18 10:02:16

Talked to DH about it last night and we are in total agreement - yes we think the DCs need to understand something about communion before taking it, no that does not need to be "is this the REAL presence".
We are just a bit taken aback that even the tinies are given it and no announcement or policy - we will have a word with the vicar.
Only thing that might be tricky is the vicar getting ALL the communion administrators (that can't be right but you know what I mean) to work out that OUR tiny one shouldn't be getting it when OTHER tiny ones are.
I'm pretty sure that a friend's enormous 4 year old (the size of our 6 year old) is taking it - he's due to start school in September so not even YR like the other boy who's in DS' class, when DS noticed him first taking it last year.

CraftyGin Tue 06-Feb-18 19:50:29

The norm in the Church of England is for children to receive holy communion after confirmation.

Since 1996, parishes could apply to their bishop to admit unconfirmed children older than 7.

Whether they apply is probably related to their churchmanship. My church is evangelical, and we do not admit unconfirmed children to HC. More catholic leaning ones will be those that make the applications to their bishops, but they are also likely to confirm fairly early.

There should always be some preparation before confirmation or an early communion. If you are visiting a church where children take HC, you should really hold your children back until they have had some kind of instruction and celebration.

drspouse Tue 06-Feb-18 19:58:47

you should really hold your children back until they have had some kind of instruction and celebration.
Easier said than done when lots of the other children are taking it, and the administrators seem to think they all should, and your 3yo pops her hands up above the rail when you're trying to be prayerful.

CraftyGin Tue 06-Feb-18 20:08:28

I can’t imagine a 3yo has had proper initiation, which goes against General Synod rules.

Also, the church needs to keep a register of which children have been admitted.

drspouse Tue 06-Feb-18 20:35:18

I have never heard of anything like that. This is all new to me. All I know is that the servers tried to give both DCs communion and that at least one 4yo has taken communion.

CraftyGin Tue 06-Feb-18 20:48:28

Sounds like a maverick parish

CraftyGin Tue 06-Feb-18 20:49:29

Although to be fair to servers, it is not up to them to judge.

Tiggles Wed 07-Feb-18 17:10:46

In the Church in Wales (so Anglican) there has been a recent remit by the bishops that anyone baptised can take communion. So we have a policy in our church that children under 5 may take communion (bread only) if their parents break some of theirs off. Over 5 may receive either just bread or the wine too if their parents agree (written slip). We keep a register and also try to ensure that the children come to the rail with their parents so they can also keep a check on what their children are doing. We do run little courses to explain to the children what communion is about.
Only 2 of my 3 children are baptised (their choice, I had a service of thanksgiving for them all when they were babies). The youngest one knows that he can't take communion unless he chooses to be baptised, which will include a preparation course) so he doesn't ever ask for it.

Niminy Thu 08-Feb-18 18:23:56

There is a variety of practice within the Church of England, with some clergy keeping a completely open table (against the rules but it does happen more often than you think -- mostly these are clergy who don't have a very exalted view of communion).

Tuo Thu 15-Feb-18 00:55:57

drspouse... sorry to come to this late, but I've just seen this. We admit children who have been baptised to Holy Communion before confirmation - typically from the age of about 5 or 6. There is a liturgy that is used. I've had a look online and have found the one that I've copied below, which is very similar to what we would use. The key thing is that the child confirms that she or he wants to be admitted to communion. In looking for that liturgy, I've found lots of resources online for children preparing for this, such as this and this.

As someone who regularly administers the chalice at Holy Communion, I will give the chalice to anyone who comes up for it. I don't believe that it's for me (I'm a layperson, but I can't imagine that if I were ordained I'd feel all that differently) to deny Christ to someone who comes to meet Him in that way. For me, it is such an amazing privilege to be able to offer Christ to people in that way... it's about God's generosity towards me, and my desire in a teeny tiny way to pass that on to others. If it was a very young child, I might look at the parent to confirm that it's OK, but I guess I just feel that I'd rather err on the side of over- rather than under-sharing (surely this is WJWD?).

Quite apart from anything else, the altar rail is not the right place to have that discussion, so if anything I might mention it to a priest afterwards and let them decide whether to make a conversation of it outside of the service.

FWIW I'd define my church as liberal Anglo-Catholic (? or something...!)

Anyway, here's the liturgy that I found:

The rite for Admission of children to Holy Communion before Confirmation

Those who are to be admitted to Holy Communion shall stand before the minister

Minister: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are now to admit these children to Holy Communion.

Churchwarden (or other suitable person): We present to you (the candidates are named) who wish to be admitted to Holy Communion.

The Minister addresses the children

Minister: When you were baptised you were welcomed into the Church. Today we continue to celebrate God’s love for you in Jesus Christ, to whom you belong. You are now to be admitted to Holy Communion. You will be able to share in the special meal given to us by Jesus as a sign of his living presence among us. It is our prayer that in the future you will be confirmed by the Bishop and will promise, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to go on following Jesus for the rest of your lives.

Minister: Do you wish to be admitted to Holy Communion?

Children: I do

Minister: Will you do your best to follow our Lord Jesus Christ?

Children: I will

Minister: Will you do your best to grow in the Christian faith so that later you will be confirmed by the Bishop.

Children: I will

Minister (to each child): N, I admit you to Holy Communion in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. May you find in this
sacrament the love and the presence of God in your life.

(The Minister addresses the congregation; children turn to face the congregation)

Minister: Will you as God’s people here do everything you can to support and nurture these children in their journey of faith.

Congregation: We will.

(Here a suitable book or Gospel may be presented to each child)
on behalf of the

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 15-Feb-18 08:49:08

Would it not be easier to have a system for recognising which children can receive and which can’t? One that’s difficult to misinterpret.

It would save the ministers of HC having to try to remember which children (or adults) do receive and which don’t.

Although it doesn’t solve the issue of your child wanting to receive because his friends are.

drspouse Thu 15-Feb-18 09:31:22

If it was a very young child, I might look at the parent to confirm that it's OK, but I guess I just feel that I'd rather err on the side of over- rather than under-sharing (surely this is WJWD?).

See, this is a bit problematic to me, because if a parent feels very strongly they don't want their three year old to receive, but the three year old indicates by body language that they want to, it sounds like you'd give them communion.

We are also liberal Anglo-Catholic but nothing along these lines has ever been mentioned by the church or the priest.

Rafals in a sense we do in that children (or adults) who want a blessing are supposed to put their hands below the rail.
But children do not necessarily do what their parent has told them to do, and it's kind of hard to prevent a small child either side of you from putting their hands on the rail when you are also trying to receive communion!

(ministers of HC... thank you... not v good on technical terms!)

Tuo Thu 15-Feb-18 23:37:25

DrS... Sorry, I wrote that when very tired and mixed up different scenarios in one paragraph in an unhelpful way. No I wouldn't just give communion to a child of three, but I can't really see a scenario when they'd come up for it without a parent. I was thinking more about adults/older children. I've never been in that situation with a very young child (probably because I only administer the chalice so generally the decision would have been dealt with by the priest doing the host - if they give the host, I give the wine; if they give a blessing, I don't...). But we wouldn't admit a child as young as three to HC anyway, I think (though it's obviously not my decision).

We deal with the hands/rail thing by saying that people who want to receive a blessing should carry the service sheet with them. That generally works well (it's clear, and means you have something in your hands...). In the US the norm was for people who wanted a blessing only to cross their arms over their chests. I don't think I've seen that in the UK, though.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 15-Feb-18 23:50:00

Crossing your arms over your chest is standard in Catholic Churches in the U.K. It’s what the kids do in our church. I’ve not seen it in CofE only carrying the service sheet.

I was thinking more in terms of carrying the service sheet or something. Hands on or under the rail seems a bit easier for kids to end up putting their hands in the wrong place especially very young ones.

drspouse Fri 16-Feb-18 18:58:16

Our DCs don't take/get their own service sheets but we could give them ours.
I've even had one of the chalice ministers try to give DS (but not DD) the wine after he'd had a blessing!
They might remember to cross their arms - maybe worth suggesting to the vicar.

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 16-Feb-18 19:06:27

In our Methodist church, kids take communion at any age. My kids went to CofE school and we had lots of joint services with the local CofE church so my kids got a bit confused sometimes.

It seems a bit excluding to me, that someone should have to jump through a lot of hoops to be considered good enough to take communion; I don't think it's how Jesus would have wanted it.

drspouse Fri 16-Feb-18 19:07:11

I don't either but I think they should be able to understand a little of what it's about.

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