Anglican Church of Canada

Bishop’s Confirmation Day in Montreal to build community and prayer partnerships

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson confirms a young parishioner at St. Thomas Anglican Church in February 2017. Photo by Lee-Ann Matthews

Montreal youth project coordinator Lee-Ann Matthews pointed out that confirmation after baptism is “not really the end of your faith journey; it’s just the beginning”.

In the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, the question of how the diocese could support the faith journeys of those undergoing confirmation—also known as confirmands—became the pondering and project of Matthews and former diocesan missioner Mark Dunwoody.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the diocese will present the fruits of that discussion in the form of its first-ever Bishop’s Confirmation Day. Anyone in the diocese who has been confirmed in the last five years, or who is looking to build a new life of faith, is invited to the synod office to attend the all-ages event which will feature art, music, food, and a meeting with Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson.

Along with a tour of Christ Church Cathedral, those in attendance will enjoy workshops on drumming and art, respectively facilitated by Saya Percussion and artist Christina Marie Phelps. Opening worship will be led by the Zack Ingles worship band.

“We just thought it’d be really great to honour people who’ve been confirmed,” Matthews said.

“I think confirmation itself has value because it’s one of the ways that people enter into the church,” she added. “A lot of people don’t go to church unless they have a reason, like a funeral, Christmas, a wedding, or a baptism. But confirmation’s another one of those things that manage to get people’s attention.”

The idea for the celebration met with a favourable reception from Bishop Irwin-Gibson, who in the past has invited confirmation classes to visit her office and personally given tours of Christ Church Cathedral for the confirmands.

“I thought it was a great initiative to invite people,” the bishop said. “A lot of the young people have not had a visit to synod office or to the cathedral, so it’s one of the ways to try to continue to engage them … What we’re going to be doing is trying to have some fun [and] do some cross-parish networking with the young people who come.”

What is a prayer partner?

A key aspect of that networking process at Bishop’s Confirmation Day will involve assigning prayer partners to confirmands.

Matthews defines a prayer partner as “a friend who you will pray for and who will pray for you by name … someone you can text or call or have a meal or coffee with when you need a prayer, a buddy, a confidant, a comrade in Christ”. Each participant at Bishop’s Confirmation Day will receive a prayer partner whom they are encouraged to reach out to on a weekly basis.

Each partner will be given a prayer partner card with suggested questions to ask or send their partner via text message. Examples include:

“Of course as Christians, we’re all really familiar with how much prayer can impact people’s lives positively,” Matthews said. “But I think that a lot of people outside the church are not necessarily as connected to the importance of prayer … We’re just trying to drive home the value of prayer and how much it can connect you to God and to one another, to build your community and to build a connection to God.

“It’s also worth just to get people thinking outside of themselves,” she added. “Prayer isn’t just about your own personal relationship with God, but it’s also about your community.”

Building that sense of community through networking is a major goal of Bishop’s Confirmation Day.

Among those who will be present at the event is the Rev. Jean-Daniel Williams, associate pastor of Christ Church Cathedral, who oversees the weekly young adult Bible study group Hungry Minds. Bishop Irwin-Gibson cited Hungry Minds as an example of a program that brings together young Christians by encouraging them to think more deeply about their faith.

“The most exciting confirmations for me have been with young people who have clearly had enough time and freedom to think about stuff,” the bishop said, adding, “We’re really trying to build relationships for the future so that we can help people in their journey of discipleship.”

Registration is open until the day of the event. To register, contact Lee-Ann Matthews.