Rites of Passage
Every Unitarian Universalist congregation has its own ways of celebrating life and marking life transitions. We share our joys and sorrows, supporting one another through difficulty and success. From birth to death, our congregation helps us live with deeper gratitude, greater connection, and more reverence for life.
Our custom-made weddings and memorial services honor the people involved by reflecting their unique personalities and values. Unitarian Universalist clergy work closely with couples and loved ones to design these very special events.
Wedding services are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the love of two individuals who have chosen to come together in marriage.
Because of our strong respect for each person's beliefs and values, each wedding is custom-crafted with a couple to reflect their personalities and relationship. This respect and our flexibility enable Unitarian Universalist ministers to be skilled officiants for interfaith weddings, atheist weddings and weddings for those with Unitarian Universalism's diverse beliefs.
In addition to blessing heterosexual unions, Unitarian Universalist congregations and ministers joyfully bless same-sex marriages. Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people and have a long history of promoting equal rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).
ervices to honor loved ones who have passed on are often very personal occasions.
Rather than having Christian-style baptisms or christenings, Unitarian Universalists welcome the babies and children of members and friends through a Ceremony of Child Dedication. During the ritual, parents dedicate themselves to the care of the child, while the congregation dedicates itself to the child’s spiritual nurturing. We very much believe that “it takes a village” to create a spiritually rich environment in which a child can grow and learn.
Unitarian Universalists believe that every child brings new life and hope into the world. We set aside this special time for the community to bless the child and celebrate the blessing of this gift of life. The ceremony does not make the life of the child sacred; we believe that life is sacred inherently. When we dedicate a child we acknowledge the truth that each child’s life is sacred and hold that truth in the light of our faith.
There is no “standard” UU child dedication or blessing ceremony, and each service may use different words and elements from family, cultural, and religious traditions. As we join together to name and dedicate the child and ourselves, the identity and values of the church community and the family give the ceremony meaning. We affirm our commitment to nurture the child and hold the child in the fabric of community. Even a dedication done privately, not in the context of a public UU worship service, is a ceremony of blessings given and received. We are all blessed when we welcome the child into the human family and give our blessing to the child’s life as he or she begins their journey.
A child dedication or blessing ceremony is appropriate when a new baby is born, when a child is adopted, or when a family decides to join a UU community and wishes to have its children welcomed through dedication.
In the wake of death, Unitarian Universalists grieve, but we also celebrate life. The minister works with family and friends to create a service that honors the sacred journey of the person who has died. It’s not unusual to see tears and to hear laughter at these services. Memorial services usually occur after cremation or burial, though on occasion they happen before the interment of ashes. No casket is present for a memorial service.
These services are developed by the family of the deceased and the presiding minister to specially honor the memory of that individual. The service might include the following elements:
- A eulogy
- Poems and other readings
- Prayer or meditation
- A time to remember the deceased with stories and memories
- Hymn singing or other music
- A time for personal reflection
If needed, our minister can also work with a family on a short graveside interment rather than on the more usual memorial service. Please contact us for more information.