24th Provincial Assembly issues guidelines asking children who have not been confirmed to not be presented for the Eucharist
The 24th Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda has clarified the rules governing admission to Holy Communion. Speaking at a confirmation service last week, the Bishop of West Buganda, the Rt. Rev. Henry Katumba Tamale, said the church will no longer confer the sacrament those under 12-years of age.
In a news report printed in the Kampala Dispatch, Bishop Katumba was reported to have told the congregation at St John’s Church Kijjabwemi in Masaka Archdeaconry on 27 Oct 2018 the Assembly had noted the growing trend of parents presenting young children for the sacrament even before mastering the basic Christian prayers. This practice undermined the rationale of the ritual of confirmation, he said, which in the Church of Uganda was seen as the completion of the process of Christian initiation that began with baptism.
The 24th Provincial Assembly which met in Mukono from 22 to 24 August 2018 endorsed the new guidelines as part of a program to strengthen the Anglican faith in Uganda. Under the 1999 Canons of the Church of Uganda, admission to Holy Communion is governed by Canon 2:12.
CANON 2:12 THE ADMISSION TO HOLY COMMUNION
2.12.1 There shall be admitted to Holy Communion Members of the Church of Uganda who have been confirmed in accordance with the rites of the Church.
2.12.3 Baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches which subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and who are in good standing within their own churches, may be admitted to Holy Communion as well.
2.12.3 If any person by virtue of sub-paragraph 2.12.2 above regularly receive the Holy Communion over a long period which appears likely to continue indefinitely, the priest shall set before him/her the normal requirements of the Church of Uganda for communicant status in that Church.
2.12.4 Where any priest is in doubt as to the application of this Canon, he shall refer the matter to the Bishop of the Diocese.
The assembly is understood not to have amended the canon, but issued a formal explanatory note.
The practice of receiving Holy Communion without having first been confirmed differs across the Anglican Communion. Article 25 of the Articles of Religions lists confirmation among those rites “commonly called Sacraments” which are “not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel” (a term referring to the dominical sacraments, i.e. baptism and Holy Communion), because they were not directly instituted by Christ with a specific matter and form, and they are not generally necessary to salvation.