I’ve had confirmation on the brain for a long time. I used to tag along with my mom when I was 8 years old and she was teaching confirmation at my home church. I couldn’t wait for my turn! When that turn finally came, I struggled with both loving and hating confirmation. The first year of the two-year program, we had great mentors and engaging and challenging material. The second year, the church revamped the confirmation program. Too bad for us. We lost our small group leaders and picked up a curriculum of what I call the “Jesus loves you” variety. It’s sad to me to think about how excited I was for confirmation as a child when I compare that to how happy I was to be done with it as a teenager.
What most excites you about this project?
What excites me most about this project is talking to youth, some of whom love confirmation and some of whom hate it. I love hearing from them about their journey of faith, how they understand their relationship to the church, what’s good and bad about confirmation as they experience it. As a teacher, I am energized by hearing about all the creative ways that pastors and lay leaders are finding to make the Bible and church tradition (!) come alive for students.
Why do you think this study is important for your denomination? What impact do you think this project could have on the future of the church?
I’m a candidate for ordination in the ELCA, but I attend a PC(USA) seminary and I’m working with the PC(USA) research team of this project, so when I think about the impacts of this project for my denomination, I am automatically pulled in two directions. One of the best and most exciting aspects of this project for me is the chance for us, Christians from many different traditions, to work together and learn from one another about what it means to be “confirmed” in the faith. I think it’s incredibly important for us to think about confirmation and youth discipleship in a more holistic way. I hope that through this project we can learn more about how to pass on our distinctive witness within the Body of Christ to our youth while connecting them with one another as fellow members of that Body.
If we could do that, the witness of the whole Church would be strengthened. Who knows what the Holy Spirit might do with such a community?
Sylvia Bull, a native of Great Falls, MT, is a third-year student in the dual M.Div/M.A. in Christian Education program at Princeton Theological Seminary. A lifelong Lutheran, she is pursuing ordination with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her academic and vocational interests include adult and intergenerational Christian education, particularly teaching the Bible and church practices. When she is not studying or working at the Princeton Public Library, she enjoys knitting, home improvement projects, and dance parties.