“GETTING PARSONAL”- February 2019
Rev. William D. Ingraham
The confirmation class began last fall, and has been progressing nicely through the ensuing months. The initial class sessions happened in October and November. The month of December was set apart for service, when each of the students had at least one volunteer opportunity at the weekly Tuesday night food pantry our church leads on behalf of Neighbors in Need. Regular class sessions resumed in January, and will continue through April. Our goal is to celebrate Confirmation Sunday on May 5.
This is the first confirmation class I’ve taught at First Church. The timing was dictated by the desire to hold the class in a year when we could have a larger number of students. By making the class available to all four years of high school at the same time, we had a potential of eleven students for this year’s class. Of the eleven, nine have decided to participate. As you can imagine, each of these youth has a busy and full schedule of school, work, extra-curricular and family activities. Yet they’ve all done a remarkable job of attending almost all, if not all of the classes. I appreciate their level of engagement and participation.
Mrs. Bennett joins me with the class each session, and on the Sunday I needed to be away took the lead in teaching the class. She coordinates the classes service opportunities, including both the volunteer time with the food pantry and the upcoming trip to Common Cathedral in metro Boston that will happen on Palm Sunday. She also provides most of the lunches for the class, which is essential with our meeting time falling after worship and Sunday school.
Each of the confirmands has chosen a mentor — an adult member of the church who accompanies them through the confirmation process. Mentors join us for one class each month, fully participating in the lessons and discussions. They touch base with their confirmands on a regular basis outside of class, too. While the initial idea was for the students to have the opportunity to learn from the life and faith of their mentors, it’s clear that each mentor is also learning from the life and evolving faith of their confirmand. One of the blessings of confirmation is that each of us grows in and through this process.
From now through the spring we’ll be working on two major, related projects. We’ll be drafting a group statement of faith, and individually, the students will be preparing their personal statements of faith, which I refer to as their “Credo.” In Latin, “credo” means “I believe.” The goal is for each student to understand what they believe, knowing how it fits with the traditional beliefs and aspirations of the Christian faith, both present and historic. It also is an opportunity for them to name who they hope to be in the world, what they’ll stand for, and what they hope to do to make a difference, for good, and for God. All of this, I hope, will be written with the understanding that they are on a faith journey. Their Credo reflects where they are today, in this moment in their lives. As they live and grow through future years, their personal faith will grow and evolve with them, as will their understanding of who they are called to be, and what they’re called to do.
Have you thought about your own Credo lately? What are the core elements of your faith? And how are you called to live in the world today? How has that changed from the time of your own confirmation? Or a decade ago? Or even last year?
From my perspective, if we’re doing it right, truly engaged with God and the dynamics of a changing world, daily seeking to walk in the ways of Jesus and be true to the Gospel of love and compassion, what we believe and what we stand for is bound to change. We might not be aware of the changes in our faith from day to day. But looking back across the years and various ages and stages of our lives, we can see the many ways we’ve evolved and grown, our faith and understanding being broadened and strengthened through our aspiration to seek God, care for one another, and improve our community.
Please join me in praying for our confirmands, and for their mentors, too. They’re undergoing a very important process, and doing a great job of it!
See you in church… - Bill