The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


It's not your grandmother's confirmation

This rite of spring (or fall) needs to change or, egads, disappear!

Confirmation. In the past, just uttering the word conjured up feelings of dread in young people, parents and pastors. Or perhaps anxiety or ambivalence.

In the “old days” anxiety was often associated with the public examination during the rite itself—just ask someone who recalls sweaty palms while struggling to remember the third article of the Apostles’ Creed. A sense of ambivalence may have been the result of a less than meaningful teaching

But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Marilyn Sharpe, who remembers well the day in 1976 when she was asked to teach seventh-grade confirmation. Sharpe, director of Christian parenting and intergenerational ministries at The Youth & Family Institute, Minneapolis, offered to do anything but: “Could I do all your mailings for a year? How about scrubbing toilets?”

But she ended up saying yes, and has been “loving the fuzz off those kids and adoring their questions” ever since.

Wearing new shorts

As an ambassador of confirmation, she says it has changed and has to change. “I don’t still wear the same shorts I wore in eighth grade. Do you?” she asks. ­­In fact, as young Lutherans publicly affirm their faith at Pentecost, Reformation Day or at other times, they’d be fortunate to have been shaped by a congregation and a home that Sharpe describes.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity