Saturday, January 30, 2010

A party and a confirmation class

Today was Margaret's 90th birthday. She fell and broke her foot on Christmas Eve, and is now in a special re-habilitation unit out in St Mellon's, opposite the now world famous shoppers in pyjamas banning Tesco store. She was planning to invite all her friends for a big birthday lunch, but the fall meant it had to be postponed, so several church friends organised a party for her in her residence, where there was a spare day room available that could accommodate a couple of dozen people. And that's how many people showed up, to greet her over an early afternoon glass of wine, sandwiches and cake. It was a joyous occasion, and Margaret was in good form, delighting the being surrounded by friends and family.

I almost lost my concentration on timing with so many people to talk with. I needed to be back home by four thirty for the first Confirmation class with Bethan and Matthew. Clare and I had to make an abrupt exit to avoid them turning up at an empty Vicarage. Despite red lights all the way, we were back on the dot, and despite my feeling of unpreparedness, it was a good session with two children keen to engage, responsive and asking questions. I guess that having taught confirmation classes a dozen times before makes it easier.

Hmm... you'd think that in forty years of ministry I'd have more experience than that. It reflects the decline in young church attenders, decline in those surviving church attendance long enough to want to be confirmed. When Clare and I were sorting out old photos the other day, we came across pictures of Geneva confirmation classes we did together in the nineties, when eight to a dozen teenagers per class was the norm. And that was half the number of confirmands at the start of the seventies when I did my first curacy.

The confirmation service is at the end of February, in St Margaret's Roath, so we have five intensive Saturday sessions. That's represents eight hours 'contact time' - as much as Jenny and I packed in to the weekend confirmation retreat we did together three years ago. It's as much as the kids can manage with their crowded personal and domestic timetables these days. I just hope we can all stay clear of 'flu and colds for the duration.

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