Dutilh’s Confirmation Class Prepares to Proclaim Their Faith
Click on gallery above to see more images of the confirmands’ visit to the Conference Center.
On Sunday, June 2, at 10:00 a.m., 12 of Dutilh’s young people will publicly take the next step on their journey of faith as they are confirmed as members of Dutilh Church.
Emmie Bush, Macey Casten, Mason Chapman, Olivia Dils, Mike Easterling, Alex Harrison, Timothy Hogue, Jordan Hoover, Nathan Lemke, Aaron Sedlak, Emily Sedlak, and Tyler Snow have been preparing since September to respond to God’s grace with a promise to live as people of faith, reaffirming the baptismal promises first made by their parents on their behalf—often when the confirmands were infants.
Sarah Hogue, director of children’s ministry at Dutilh Church, works diligently each year to prepare the newest group of students. Confirmation candidates meet with Hogue 18 times between September and May. Their curriculum includes a comprehensive overview of the Bible, from the creation narratives in Genesis to the founding of the early church in the New Testament.
“That curriculum gives them a common understanding of our faith,” Hogue explained. In addition to attending regular Confirmation classes, students are asked to take advantage of 15 service opportunities. Those acts of service include things like ushering, serving communion, working in the media booth, or assisting Hogue with younger children during Kingdom Kidz and Kingdom Quest. “We want the students to understand that when they become a part of the Body of Christ, they are supposed to serve,” Hogue explained.
Students write a statement of faith as part of their preparation; many will read those statements in front of the church during the Confirmation service. They also participate in a fall bonfire, day-long retreat at Ligonier, and a tour of the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference Center, where they have an opportunity to meet Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi.
Confirmation is a significant step in student’s lives, Hogue explained. “It’s important for them to make their own decision to follow Jesus,” she said.
For the first time this year, confirmands were paired with a mentor. That connection with another Christian adult was powerful for the students as well as for the mentors, Hogue said. Mentors often served alongside the confirmands, offering guidance and serving as role models for how to live out their faith.
The confirmands cited a number of elements they enjoyed as part of their preparation for Confirmation. Nathan Lemke, a sixth grader at Haine Middle School, said that making new friends among the other kids in his Confirmation class was one of his favorite parts of the experience, and that he learned more about the true story of Jesus because of his involvement. One challenge for Nathan was missing events due to other commitments. His advice for students next year is, “Try to go to as many events as possible, even if they sound boring…because they probably are not.”
Timothy Hogue, a sixth grader at Eden Christian Academy said being with his friends was also a highlight of the experience and that he enjoyed learning about the origins of the Methodist Church and of Dutilh Church. His biggest challenge was arguing with his mother about whether to read his statement of faith in front of the church, and his advice for future confirmands was to embrace all the fun of the Ligonier retreat day—specifically, “Ride the vomit comet at Ligonier, even if you are scared!”
Haine Middle School sixth grader Emily Sedlak said, “The best thing about being part of Confirmation this year is being able to learn about Christ and the church along with other kids who share similar beliefs.” One challenge was having only four girls in the class, even though Emily enjoyed talking with all the kids; she added, “My advice to next year’s Confirmation class would be to never lose your faith in God. Be ready to learn more about Christ and the church.”
Jordan Hoover, a sixth grade student at Evans City Middle School, said getting to know the other confirmands was the best part of his preparation for Confirmation. One new thing Jordan learned was that “even though it may seem at times you are alone, God is always with you and always loves you.” Jordan encouraged future confirmands to get involved in all the opportunities offered through Confirmation.
Seneca Valley ninth grader Aaron Sedlak said the best part of his experience was getting to know all the other kids, although it was sometimes challenging to be the oldest student in the group. Aaron said, “I learned that we all have different skills, but none are more important than others; they just work together to form the body of Christ.” His advice to future confirmands was to “take any opportunity you can to volunteer.”
Mars Centennial sixth grader Alex Harrison’s favorite thing about Confirmation was that “I got to learn about Jesus with my friends.” He was happy that upon Confirmation, he will be able to vote at church. Alex said finishing the homework was sometimes a challenge, and that he would like future confirmands to know, “You will have fun!”
Tyler Snow, a sixth grader at Haine Middle School, said his favorite parts about the experience were “going to Camp Ligonier and ushering with my mentor.” One new thing he learned was how many service opportunities are available in the church. He encouraged next year’s class to attend the team-building activities and to find fun service opportunities.
Evans City Middle School sixth grader Mason Chapman said the best part of his experience was making new friends in class, and that he particularly enjoyed learning about “the story of Abraham and Sarah and how they waited for a baby.” He advised future students, “Be happy, try your best, you can do it, never give up, talk to the people around you.”
Emmie Bush, also in sixth grade at ECMS, said, “getting to become better friends with the other confirmands” was a highlight of her experience. She enjoyed learning “how to become a better follower of Jesus Christ” and said, “Learning how to sew with Miss Sherry was challenging, but fun!” Emmie especially enjoyed going to Camp Ligonier. “It was so much fun!!” she said.
Marshall Middle School sixth grader Macey Casten, said, “I enjoyed getting more involved with the church and spending time with my mentor, Sherry. I also liked getting to know more of the young people going through Confirmation with me.” One new thing Macey learned during the process is “what our bishop does and what her responsibilities are.” Macey’s words of wisdom for next year’s class were, “It’s a great experience and you get to learn about the church. I felt it helped me improve my relationship with God and Jesus. You will enjoy getting to know more people involved it the church.”
Mike Easterling, a sixth grader at Haine Middle School, said his favorite parts of Confirmation were the retreat, learning about Jesus’s life and story, and the bishop during the visit to the conference center. Mike learned that John Wesley founded the Methodist church and said the most challenging part of his experience was writing the statement of faith. His advice for future Confirmation students is, “Be excited for Confirmation because it is fun. You do not want to miss the retreat because you learn teamwork skills and get to play lots of fun games. Another thing you should not miss is meeting the bishop; it is like a big giant party with fun and games.”
Senior Pastor Tom Parkinson spoke of Confirmation as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Our church has watched these young people grow up. All their lives they have been following Jesus because their parents or grandparents have been bringing them to church. Now they have the chance to stand before God and our church and say, ‘I choose to confirm the choice my parents made for me. I choose to follow Jesus. I choose to be part of the church.’ We should never take that for granted. We are witnessing an historical moment as a new generation of Christians is born before our eyes.”