Children and Holy Communion
Children and young people are an important part of every Christian community not just for the future of the church but as full members of the body of Christ now. If our young people are fellow pilgrims valued for what they are and what they offer and not just for what they may become then parishes will want to seriously consider how they are incorporated within the sacramental life of the community and whether young people should receive Communion before Confirmation.
This is an important step in the life of a parish and Mission Community and requires appropriate discussions, conversations and prayer by PCCs, the wider church community and involving young people and families at every step of this journey.
The Church of England lays down certain procedures that must be followed but above all this should be a journey of affirmation suitably marked by celebration and joy for the whole community. It will enhance and change the sacramental life for everyone.
Listen here to a talk with Church of England National Children and Youth Advisor, the Rev’d Mary Hawes:
History and theology
Often, we can be trapped into thinking what is ‘traditional’ or historic is what we remember from our own early experiences of church life. When discussing any issue we need to take a more balanced and longer term view. Here are some brief notes on the historical perspective of Children at Communion: Children and Communion – an historical perspective.
Many books have been written on the theology of this subject (see the selected reading list for some examples – Children and Communion – Book list). Here are some brief notes about where God might be in our reflections: Theological Perspectives.
Framing the conversation within parishes
Discussions will be required involving the PCC, wider church community including children and youth leaders. The following resources may help you with these conversations:
A time of preparation
There are a number of suggestions for courses to help prepare children for participating in Holy Communion. Some suggestions are featured on the Children and Communion – Book list.
A time of celebration and affirmation
Arranging a service at which children will receive Holy Communion for the first time will be an important time of celebration and affirmation within the Mission Community. This should be done in discussion with youth leaders and children. It will become a regular event.
There is Common Worship material to be used in a rite of admission – see Rites of Affirmation: Appropriating Baptism | The Church of England
Procedures to Follow
This document explains the way the procedures set out in the Admission of Baptised Children to Holy Communion Regulations 2006 are to be applied in the Diocese of Exeter – Procedures to Follow.
The ongoing sacramental life of the community
You will need to consider how your worshiping life will change and be enhanced by the inclusion of children. This will depend on the context in each parish and Mission Community. There are Common Worship resources on celebrating the Eucharist with children – Additional Eucharistic Prayers | The Church of England
There is a paper in the attached resources offering guidance and resources for Messy Church and Holy Communion -see Holy Communion in Anglican Messy Churches Advent.
The booklist also contains a list of resources available – Children and Communion – Book list.
Children as Eucharistic Assistants
Children may serve as Eucharistic Assistants in those parishes where children are admitted to receive Communion before Confirmation. Only those children who have been admitted will be eligible to serve in this way. Selection will be, as for adults, a matter for the incumbent with the agreement of the PCC. This is an appropriate development for those parishes where children receive Communion regularly. If children are invited to be Eucharistic Assistants they should occupy the role fully and not only serve other children.
The Going for Growth website has a page on resources for Holy Communion with Children:
What do the Children think?
Although it’s a few years old, this video from Peterborough gives a children/young person’s perspective:
Mina Munns (Creative Flame) has ideas for exploring communion with children: http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/p/exploring-holy-communion.html
The Diocese of Bath and Wells have written a practical guide of how to do Communion preparation with children:
Both Margaret Pritchard-Houston and Mary Hawes have Pinterest Boards on Communion:
Click here to see the Rev’d Mary Hawes’ board.
Click here to see Margaret Pritchard-Houston’s board.
For further information please contact:
Children & Families Mission Adviser