A small working group has been examining baptism and confirmation in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. They are reporting with recommendations to General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) which is meeting in May 2016. School Chaplains have received this report and recommendations but, I have checked with the Provincial Secretary, we are not allowed to share the content of this report.
I have long pressed for reports and motions to GSTHW to be digitally public prior to the meeting of GSTHW, and our pressure for that means that this year, for the first time, that will be the case. So as soon as that material becomes available I will point to it here and provide space to discuss it.
What is public already is that there has been a formal shift in Tikanga Pasifika (the Polynesian stream of our church). Although the formal position of our church since 1990 has been that baptism is the sole requirement for reception of communion, in practice confirmation was the doorway to receiving communion in Polynesia. In 2015, however, the Synod of the Diocese of Polynesia resolved that
baptism is complete in itself, that is, one is made a member of Christ’s church and the gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon that person at baptism. The baptised can therefore partake of Holy Communion because he or she has now been admitted into the body of Christ, the church.
[That there are still places in Tikanga Pakeha (the “European” stream of our Church) that have “Admission to Communion”, or people, including bishops, who teach that in confirmation one receives the Holy Spirit, is another discussion – I do not think these can be understood as the teachings of our Church.]
Some years back I was interested in discussing per saltum ordination (being ordained directly to the order to which you are called – ie. directly, for example, to priesthood, rather than being a deacon first – see here and here). Discussions at that time underlined that, in our Russian-Doll approach to ordination (inside every bishop there is a priest, inside whom is a deacon, then a confirmed person, then a baptised person), confirmation is a requirement for ordination. This is currently a canonical requirement of our church.
I was told in no uncertain terms that Tikanga Polynesia had a traditional practice of confirmation and I had no hope of budging that. Now that baptism is universally taught in our Church as full church membership, might that open the discussion whether confirmation is needed for ordination?
I am wondering whether other Anglican provinces require confirmation for ordination (let us know in the comments, please)?
Have other Anglican provinces had this discussion?
Do other episcopal denominations (Roman Catholics, Old Catholics) require confirmation for ordination?
Have they had this discussion?
If other Anglican provinces (and other episcopal denominations) require confirmation for ordination, would removing that requirement in our province upset acceptance (discussions) about the validity of ordinations here?
I am looking forward to comments and information.
[Update: Some of the discussion is happening on the facebook post that goes with this blog post – click here to see the other points once you’ve checked the discussion below
On another thread picking up this discussion, a priest underlines being ordained without confirmation.]