The Bishop of Reading confirmed 18 teens and adults in services at St James Church, Southlake, and St Mary’s Purley on Sunday 26 February.
The candidates from congregations at St John’s Woodley, St James Southlake, St Mary’s Purley, and Reading Asian Christian Fellowship shared personal stories of faith journeys and testimonies from their different walks of life.
It was a joy and privilege to confirm each candidate as they made a commitment to following Jesus. Their powerful and moving testimonies are an encouragement to all of us and a clear sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in every generation.” - The Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading
Two young teens, aged 11 and 13, from St John’s Church, gave their testimonies during the service:
“Confirmation feels like I am telling God I’m still here…God is such an amazing presence who helps me and listens to everybody’s problems…My faith makes me realise that I am not on my own whether it is part of my church family or having God’s presence always nearby.”
“Faith for me is believing in something greater than ourselves…I have always felt God’s presence, quietly supporting and holding my hand when I am struggling…By being confirmed I am re-charging my faith to its tip top condition and showing people I am capable.”
At St John’s, incorporating intergenerational worship into regular church life has led to families and young people coming back to church and reconnecting with the Christian faith. The church employed a Children and Families Worker to lead the vision to invest in young families and create a space for them to belong and participate in church services, over the past 18 months.
The Revd Susie Templeton, Vicar of St John’s Woodley, describes the vision behind the intergenerational congregation:
“There is something special about our faith being caught not taught – children and young people need to see adults worshipping and participating in faith to be able to understand its importance.
“The different generations worshipping and serving together offers children and young people something that they can feel part of. We want them to know that this is their space as much as it is anyone else’s.”
The church started offering children an active part in services through readings, prayers, and dramatised talks, and introduced different ways of storytelling and exploring scripture that is accessible to different ages. An outdoor Wild Church group meeting once a month, offers an additional intergenerational space where all can take part in activities and is popular with local young families exploring baptism.
Susie encourages others to invest time in the younger generations:
“Families that used to join us once a month are at church every week. We have between seven and ten children and young people every week, its not about big numbers, it’s about consistency.”
“Seeing two of our young people confirmed and enthusiastic about their faith is such a joy and brings life to the congregation.
“If you have lost hope of seeing kids engage, let their words be an encouragement to you. Create space for someone to connect with God and feel that they belong, and the Holy Spirit does the rest no matter their age. This is the church of the future.”