What age should children or young people be when they are first able to take communion? This question has been 'settled' in different ways at different times in the history of the church, and yet today in the Church of England it is as contentious an issue as ever.
The historic Anglican pattern was established at the Reformation. The infants of professing Christian parents were baptised, and they were confirmed by the bishop at the 'age of discretion' (about 12 to 15 years), after a course of instruction on the lines of the Prayer Book Catechism.
Over the past half-century, this pattern has been increasingly questioned. A House of Bishops report in 1996 set guidelines for the admission of baptised children to communion before confirmation, and an estimated 9 per cent of UK Anglican churches now permit this new practice.
Roger Beckwith and Andrew Daunton-Fear
ISBN: 978 0 946307 54 8