The intention of this curriculum is to help guide parishes as they plan how they will help others prepare for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and marriage.
These celebrations are often seen as the three most significant milestones in a life of a faith, and every member of a congregation has a role to play, both in helping individuals prepare for the sacraments and in supporting them as they live out the commitments that they make.
This curriculum outlines what those roles are—for the family, individual, or couple preparing for the sacrament; for the priest and mentors; and for the wider congregation. Each community will bring a unique flavour to the celebrations. The following pages outline some important things to consider when thinking about the role each member of the community plays in the celebration of the sacraments, as well as resources that might be used to assist in the fulfilment of those roles
Sacraments Happening Away From Home
People may complete their preparation and receive a sacrament away from home, perhaps in the parish they grew up in or in a church that has particular meaning for them. In these situations, it is important for the clergy involved in the preparation and celebration of the sacrament to be in touch with the clergy in the home parish to ensure that supportive and meaningful follow-up occurs.
A Note on Identifying Parish Mentors
In preparation for baptism, confirmation, and marriage, the role of mentors is to support and strengthen those preparing for a sacrament in their learning and discerning, and also to deepen relationships within the parish community. Mentors may help with aspects of preparation, but their primary role is to be a companion.
When identifying individuals to serve as mentors, it is important to seek out leaders who have received that particular sacrament, and who are actively engaged in their own ongoing faith formation. In particular it is beneficial (when possible) to avoid having family members of those who will be participating in the sacrament serve as mentors.
We hope that this resource is helpful as you journey alongside those preparing for these sacraments, that it deepens the connection between those individuals and your parish, and encourages ongoing faith formation for everyone involved.
We’d love to hear from you about how you used this, what worked well, what didn’t, and what is missing – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks you for using this resource!
“Some are concerned that the catechumenate is actually a hindrance to those seeking faith. In their view, requiring preparation for baptism puts up roadblocks to experiencing Jesus’ limitless love; making people “jump through hoops” feels like a negation of God’s free gift of grace in Christ. As a matter of fact, most of those inquiring about faith truly believe that they need to do the right thing to be loved (by God or anyone else). Not preparing them for that radical re-thinking before they’re baptised would be dishonest. Sharing the good news of God’s limitless love will, in our culture at least, necessitate conversion. Cursory preparation, that barely gives inquirers the time of day, and certainly does not listen to their deepest hopes and fears, is itself a negation of grace. The catechumenate is one way to help inquirers and parishioners discover that Christian faith is about trust and relationship …. In the catechumenate, it’s the relationship between those inquirers and their sponsors where the rubber hits the road. Preparation for discipleship thus has less to do with information (though that, as in any relationship is important) than developing trust. If we truly want to create faithful, committed Christians, we must give them ourselves — our hearts and minds, attentive ears and, most importantly, our time. It is that relationship, and a growing trust in the community of the faithful, where grace will be discovered.” (p.3)
From “Custom Designing the Catechumenate for Your Parish”
Baptism Preparation Resources
Discovery Series: The Baptismal Covenant
This is an older resource, but it includes a 20-minute video lesson on the Baptismal Covenant as part of a larger Faith Formation series. It includes links to participant and facilitator guides with prompts for small group discussion. The language used makes it more appropriate for families and candidates that have had a moderate level of exposure to scripture and religious terminology. There is a short training video for series facilitators, and each course video comes with complete instructions for leading group work. The Baptismal course can be supplemented with other courses in the series.
Unlocking Baptismal Preparation
Developed by a group in the UK, this is a simple, accessible course to prepare the families and sponsors wishing to have a child baptized. It is specifically designed to engage newcomers without requiring them to have any prior church experience. The entire “toolkit” is available here: www.unlock-urban.org.uk/pdf/BaptismToolKit.pdf
Starting Rite: Spiritual Nurture for Babies and Their Parents
Church House Publishing, 2015
“When Anglican priest Jenny Paddison became a mother, there were numerous activities for new parents and their babies on offer: baby yoga, baby massage, baby swimming – but nothing from the church. In response, she created this five session programme that connects with the immense sense of wonder and joy that new parents experience and provides spiritual nurture from the outset, recognising the innate capacity for spirituality with which we are born. Starting Rite is designed specifically for babies up to a year old and their parents. It provides a complete practical companion to offering the programme locally, including story scripts, simple songs, ideas for multi-sensory play, as well as lists of equipment needed and how to create a welcoming atmosphere. It explores Christian themes though activities like peek-a-boo, blowing bubbles and splashing in water. Starting Rite enables local churches to offer a welcome to all new parents, and can also be used as a baptism preparation course.”
The Bishop recommends that the age of confirmands will normally be 15 or higher. It is recognized that the age of confirmands will sometimes vary from this norm. Those who have been admitted to the Communion by right of their Baptism shall be provided an opportunity for Confirmation in late teenage years and emphasize the concept of strengthening for Christian service. The tendency to reduce the age of Confirmation as a way of keeping young people in Church or to avoid admitting children to Communion before Confirmation is discouraged strongly. Confirmation is a life commitment for which one should be well and carefully prepared…. Confirmation will continue to provide a significant opportunity for teaching. Great care should be takes in the preparation of candidates for Confirmation. Parishes should aim for a year’s preparation; three months is a required minimum. This time of preparation should be shared by laity and priest. This will give an opportunity to work with, and get to know, the confirmands in the parish, and vice versa. Both the confirmands and the Parish benefit if the group is kept together as a study group after confirmation.
- from the Diocesan Guideline on Confirmation www.nspeidiocese.ca/page/confirmation.aspx#.WP9QRCMrLR0
Confirmation Preparation Resources
This is an older resource, but it includes a 20-minute video lessons on various Faith Formation topics that can be used in any combination to support confirmation preparation. There is a facilitators’ training video and links to participant and leader guides with prompts for small group discussion. The language used makes it more appropriate for families and candidates that have had a moderate level of exposure to scripture and religious terminology.
Leader Resources: Catechism Curriculum
This is a simple, practical, flexible plan for teaching the themes of the Anglican Catechism. There are 18 weeks of lesson plans with materials and activities for four age groups (Grades Primary-3, Grades 4-6, Junior-Senior High, Adults). The High School and Adult lessons are ideal for Confirmation preparation. A sample is available here: www.leaderresources.org/assets/images/SAMPLES/Catechism_Curriculum.pdf
Redeem the Commute
This collection of resources was created by Redeemer Church in Ajax, Ontario, which was an Anglican community in the Diocese of Toronto (more can be found about them here: and here: www.redeemerajax.ca). Selections from the “Christianity 101” and “Following Jesus” series can be mixed and matched to create a Confirmation program that is right for your participants.
Living the Questions
“LtQ2 is an open-minded alternative to studies that attempt to give participants all the answers and instead strives to create an environment where participants can interact with one another in exploring what's next for Christianity. Featuring thirty acclaimed scholars, theologians and other experts, LtQ2 consists of 21 sessions which may be offered in sequence or as three independent flights of seven units each.... LtQ2 includes downloadable and printable leader and participant guides with weekly readings and discussion questions. Each session may be conducted in one hour or expanded to include a meal and personal sharing. The 20-minute video segments include conversations with leading voices of faith, digital stories illustrating aspects of an evolving faith, and concrete spiritual practices and disciplines.”
This is a slightly older resource, and it may be most appropriate for candidates that have had a moderate level of exposure to religious terminology. It does, however, seek to create a space where questions are welcome, and it draws from the traditions of many Christian denominations to explore the basic tenets of the Christian faith. An introductory video and sample of one of the session guides are available here (www.livingthequestions.com/xcart/home.php?cat=366) and here (www.livingthequestions.com/xcart/files/dvd/ltq2/Session%209_The%20Prophetic%20Jesus.pdf).
Stephen Cottrell, Sue Mayfield, Tim Sledge, Tony Washington
Church House Publishing, 1991
“Youth Emmaus is a course designed to help those aged 11 to 16 explore the basics of the Christian faith. This is no easy task - but Youth Emmaus offers a winning combination of meaty leaders' notes, cool handouts for group members, great cartoons and graphics and a free CD-ROM stacked with other useful resources. The material is fully road-tested and ideal for youth groups and as a confirmation course for young people.”
“Alpha is a series of interactive sessions that explore the basics of the Christian faith.
Typically run over 8-12 weeks, it allows anyone to explore life, faith and God in a friendly, open and informal environment. In each session there’s food, a short talk, and discussion in small groups.” The website offers video training for facilitators and three courses of video presentations that can be mixed and matched to suit each group of participants. “Every session begins with food, whether it’s a three course meal or a light snack. Eating food together creates space for people to connect, relax and build friendships….The talks are designed to engage guests and inspire conversation. They explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christian faith….The discussion allows people to share their thoughts and questions about the talks without being corrected or judged. Our training helps host and helpers facilitate this discussion time and keep it a positive and comfortable experience for guests.”
Marriage Preparation is the Church community's way of giving support and guidance to you as you approach your wedding. We believe that couples contemplating marriage owe it to each other to think and talk through many important aspects of married life before the wedding. Issues such as the place of God in your marriage, communication, budgeting, and whether you will have children need to be examined. Also, you will have the opportunity to face honestly the potential stressors in a life-long relationship and to identify and celebrate the strengths of your relationship.
- Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI
Marriage Preparation Resources
Alpha Marriage Preparation Course
This course is a 5 session program based on the same principles as Alpha – it’s designed to be trusted, adventurous, authentic, gracious and open. It covers: communication, commitment, resolving conflict, keeping love alive, and shared goals and values. It’s an easy-to-run, video-based program centred around a meal or snack and there are TONS of resources to support the program. Based on Christian principles, but very suitable for couples with little to no church experience.
The couple completes an online survey, and the facilitator receives a report outlining areas of agreement and disagreement in areas including communication, personal stress profile, and marriage expectations. This provides a helpful place for starting conversations that will be relevant to the couple. There is a group program available as well for working with multiple couples at once. Particularly effective for use with couples that facilitators do not know well. Facilitators need to complete training, which can be done in person or online.
Redeem the Commute Marriage Course
This resource is designed for couples to do on their own outside of a formal course, so this could be something that couples are encouraged to do independently, or pieces from this resource could be used in the development of your own program. It isn’t designed intentionally as marriage prep, so there may be things missing from this that you will want to supplement from elsewhere. It’s a 34-day program with a video or audio component for each day and then a discussion question and occasional worksheets.