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In my research I have concluded that infant-baptisms and confirmations are practiced in the PCA, however it's not clear whether the latter is a necessary part of PCA doctrine.

The clarify, I regard confirmation as the one-off reaffirmation of the public profession that was made on behalf of the individual's parents and godparents during infant-baptism.

In the comments of this answer there is a dispute over confirmation versus a "public profession of faith". If this distinction does exist, what is the difference?

If confirmation or a similar practice is consistent throughout the PCA, what are the characteristics of it? What sets it apart from other denominations?

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Note that "confirmation" is often thought of in the Catholic context, which does have some differences from the Presbyterian method. That's why no Presbyterian I know personally actually calls it confirmation –  SSumner Jun 12 '13 at 13:16
    
@SSumner Search for "PCA confirmation" and you will find plenty of evidence that many congregations refer to the practice as 'confirmation'. –  LittleJohn Jun 12 '13 at 22:58
    
did not know that. Maybe it's a Presbytery thing? Some Presbyterys follow one convention, and that naming trickles down to the congregation level? –  SSumner Jun 13 '13 at 13:35
    
@SSumner I don't know what you mean by Presbytery. Is it part of the church structure? I'm quite ignorant about the PCA in general. The whole thing seems bizarre to me because in the Book of Church Order they don't make much of a fuss about it, but when you look at individual church websites they say how it's such an important event in a believer's life! –  LittleJohn Jun 14 '13 at 3:13
    
The Presbytery is the governing body of a local group of Presbyterian churches (it's where the term "Presbyterian" comes from, as it refers to the system of church government). See here –  SSumner Jun 14 '13 at 13:00
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Chapter 57 from The Book of Church Order--part of the PCA's doctrinal standards, along with the Westminster Confession of Faith--(a link to such in pdf format can be found here) is titled "The Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances".

Children who have been infant-baptised are not to take part in communion:

57-1. Believers’ children within the Visible Church, and especially those dedicated to God in Baptism, are non-communing members under the care of the Church. They are to be taught to love God, and to obey and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. When they are able to understand the Gospel, they should be earnestly reminded that they are members of the Church by birthright, and that it is their duty and privilege personally to accept Christ, to confess Him before men, and to seek admission to the Lord’s Supper.

Each congregation (represented by a council of elected elders) decides when such a person is ready to received communion:

57-2. The time when young persons come to understand the Gospel cannot be precisely fixed. This must be left to the prudence of the Session, whose office it is to judge, after careful examination, the qualifications of those who apply for admission to sealing ordinances.

At this time a public profession is recommended but not necessary:

57-4. It is recommended, as edifying and proper, that baptized persons, when admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Supper, make a public profession of their faith in the presence of the congregation. But in all cases, there should be a clear recognition of their previous relation to the church as baptized members.

So the PCA does have a process of confirmation however it is not necessary public and it is at the discretion of the congregation (via the elders) as to the nature of confirmation - whether classes are required, who will be admitted, whether there will be a ceremony. In practice many churches do require and offer classes for confirmees.

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Thanks for the help @PaulA.Clayton –  LittleJohn Jun 12 '13 at 12:11
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