Children and Holy Communion
Jesus took a little child and had him stand among them. He took the child in his arms and said, 'If anyone accepts children like these in my name, then he is also accepting me. And if he accepts me, then he is also accepting the One who sent me.' Mark 9.36-37
There has been provision since 1997, under House of Bishops Guidelines, for children to be admitted to Holy Communion before they are confirmed. In 2006, the House of Bishops produced a set of regulations, setting out clearly the conditions under which children might be admitted, and the appropriate steps to be taken by the incumbents and Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) applying for permission to admit children to communion.
The guidelines offered below are a pastoral interpretation of the regulations to aid parishes in considering admitting children to communion before confirmation. There is also a copy of the General Synod Regulations 2006 and a helpful advice document from the Durham Diocese website.
If you would like your child to be admitted to Holy Communion before Confirmation, you will need to contact your local vicar.
They can explain the approach of the church and answer any questions you may have. A child must be aged seven before being considered and should be baptised. If your child has not been baptised, the vicar can make arrangements for this to happen prior to their admittance to communion.
Children will then take part in a short
preparation course (suitable for their age) to make sure they are ready for this
important step. This will be taken by your vicar or another designated person, usually a
children 's leader.
The Bishop of Ely will admit children to Holy Communion prior to confirmation provided a parish has applied for permission and has the full support of the PCC. Children are not usually admitted before they are seven years old.
Forms and guidance:
- Parish application form
- Guidelines for children and Holy Communion
- Holy Communion certificate
- Durham Diocese Admission Policy
- General Synod Regulations 2006
Children should complete a preparation course delivered by the clergy or a designated person who holds a DBS.
- Ready to Share One Bread by Nick Harding and Sandra Millar is a useful reference book for a parish wishing to consider the issues before reaching a decision.
- Welcome to the Lord 's Table by Margaret Withers
- Welcome to the Lord 's Table Activity Book (for children) by Margaret Withers
- My Communion Book: A Child's Guide to Holy Communion by Kathleen Crawford
Two liturgical prayers are available here.
These are intended to involve children and capture their imaginations as fully as possible in the preparation and celebration of Holy Communion. They are to be used when significant numbers of children are attending communion but are not intended to replace prayers A-H.
On completion of the preparation course, admission to communion should be formally marked and should take place during the Sunday Eucharist in the church community where the child normally worships. It will probably be appropriate to make this service special in some way for the candidate(s), and the community in which their faith has been nurtured.
The candidate should be issued with an Admissions Certificate. The church should record the names of those admitted to communion prior to confirmation. Guidance about how to do this is given in the Guidelines document.