Introductions from Bishop Stephen

In the Gospel of Mark, as Jesus talks with the disciples, he takes a little child and has the child stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said,

‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’”. (Mark 9:37)

The question of what it means to ‘welcome’ a child in the Eucharist lies at the heart of this resource pack, on ‘Admission of Children to Holy Communion, prior to Confirmation’. We know that children come to faith in Jesus Christ. But what is their involvement in worship to be? How are they to be welcomed into the life of the church? In the Chelmsford Diocese, admission of children to Holy Communion has happened in some places, but so far it has impacted only a small number of children. And yet children are able to enter into the meaning and significance of Holy Communion; sometimes more easily than us. While we may be cluttered with sophisticated adult ways or weighed down with questions, children come freely into God’s presence with simple trust.

And so as we consider whether children have a place at the table, and reflect on the issues raised, it is important that we hear children’s
comments on their experience of church, and listen to their understanding of Holy Communion. In this resource pack you will
see the process by which children may be admitted to Holy Communion prior to confirmation. There are a series of reflections
and a number of frequently asked questions which may help you to ascertain where you are in your thinking and current practice.
At present we have approximately 70 parishes in the Diocese that admit children to Holy Communion and this number is increasing.
I would like there to be more. I think we are able to widen our ‘welcome’ at the communion table. I want children who worship
with us regularly to be with us around the Lord’s table and receive the blessings of the sacramental life.

So I invite you to consider these helpful resources, with the view of keeping children at the centre of our worshipping church life.