Confirmation services in midsummer

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, the popular saying goes. Traditionally, confirmation services in Argentina and Brazil take place on the first Sunday in December. It has to do with the school holidays.

In many New Apostolic congregations, confirmation services take place on one of the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost—but not in all. There are justified exceptions, for example in the southern hemisphere, in South America, which is currently experiencing a hot and dry summer. In Argentina and Brazil, the school year ends in December. This also applies to the religious education classes of the Church. Confirmation services in the districts of Argentina—which includes the congregations in Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay—and Brazil therefore had always taken place in the summer, traditionally on the first Sunday in December.

When the leaders of the international Church eventually decided on a different date many years ago, namely Palm Sunday, it was adopted in this part of the world as well, but it never felt right. A few years ago then, when the District Apostle Meeting decided to move the confirmation celebration from Palm Sunday to the period between Easter and Pentecost, the District Apostles Raúl Montes de Oca and Norberto Passuni advocated to going back to the original date and revive the old tradition in South America. Since then, confirmation services have once again been taking place on the first Sunday in December.

A special experience

For the Brazilian District Apostle Montes de Oca every confirmation is a “special reminder of his own confirmation”, he writes. “Conducting such a divine service always creates a special kind of excitement within me.” Just recently he conducted one of the confirmation services taking place in the country. He travelled to the congregation of Indivaí for this. It is located in the interior, in the state of Mato Grosso, some 400 kilometres from Cuiabá, its capital. The District Apostle had to change flights three times and then still drive 400 kilometres before he finally reached the congregation.

A feast for everyone

The festive service took place on a farm. More than a hundred people gathered under an improvised roof. Some of the people had come from other farms. The District Apostle remembers that it was very hot that day, nearly 40 degrees Celsius, but this did not manage to diminish the joy of the brothers and sisters. In addition to the confirmation blessing, the District Apostle also dispensed a wedding blessing on two newly married couples. The Szubris family, on whose farm the festivities took place, slaughtered two oxen, which were roasted in a pit in the ground. This is a traditional way of preparing meat in the region.

God’s beloved children

The Argentinian District Apostle Enrique Minio celebrated confirmation services in the congregations of La Banda Nº1 and Huaico Hondo. In La Banda nine girls and boys were confirmed, in Huaico Hondo there were fourteen. The Bible text that was dedicated to the confirmands was Ephesians 5: 1: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” A total of 800 young Christians in the two districts came to the altar to receive a blessing on their confirmation.

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Peter Johanning
Brazil, Confirmation