After nearly 20 years without a confirmation service, members of St John’s Lutheran Church in tiny Buccleuch on South Australia’s Mallee Highway shared the joy as seven young people were confirmed in their faith earlier this year.
Originally planned to be held inside the small church, COVID-19 density restrictions meant the service was due to be moved outdoors. That was until the weather forecast climbed rapidly during the week prior to the service, with the hottest day predicted to fall on the day of the event. The small congregation rallied and organised for the service to be moved to the nearby Peake Town Hall, with the comfort of reverse cycle air-conditioning and plenty of room for relieved invited guests on a 45-degree day.
Not only was it the first confirmation class in a significant period of time for the congregation but it was also the first online confirmation class, due in part to the appearance of COVID. While some students joined classes from their living rooms, others beamed in from other locations, including from a truck parked on a hill to receive a signal.
It wasn’t just locals who benefited from the online class arrangement. Pastor Tony Traeger received a phone call one evening from a family from his previous parish, Katanning-Narrogin in Western Australia, who were looking for a confirmation class for their son, Steven. Steven was soon able to join the class remotely, logging in online along with the rest of the class. The students got to know each other well over the following months, with Steven contributing some healthy competition to online quizzes! When classes resumed in the in-person format, a laptop was set up at the table and immediately named ‘Steven’, in honour of their classmate, who continued to attend online from a distance.
Steven and his family made the brave decision to travel interstate to attend the confirmation service in person. It was an exciting time for all the students who were able to finally meet Steven, and one of the confirmation families had the pleasure of hosting Steven and his family.
Jasmine, Oscar, Charlotte, Archie, Steven, Bryce and Kallan were confirmed in the Christian faith by Pastor Tony during the service, joined by their church elders, teachers, families, friends and the wider church community.
A banner displayed at the service featured artworks that the students had completed during their classes on the theme of ‘what church means to me’. Each piece had been transferred to canvas and compiled to create the banner, which was especially symbolic given that the service could not take place inside the church itself. The artworks were gifted to the students to take home, a fitting memento of their journey and a time they will all remember as they continue their walk with Christ.
Tracey Woidt is secretary of St John’s Lutheran Church Buccleuch in South Australia.
This story first appeared on the LCA SA-NT website and in Online Together eNews under the title “‘Know no distance’ confirmation class”.