Rites of Passage
From cradle to grave, people experience a variety of significant life transitions. It is good for the soul to mark these transitions through meaningful rituals. We call these “rites of passage.”
Our facilities may be rented for rites of passage, meetings, conferences and events for non-members.
At UUCA, we observe the following rites of passage:
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspeakable memories? (George Eliot)
A Unitarian Universalist wedding ceremony is a unique celebration of the joining of two people on their life’s journey. There is no set liturgy or format but rather each ceremony is a creation by a team made up of the couple and the minister. The goal is to create a ceremony that is unforgettably beautiful—one that features the timeless rituals of weddings even as it contains elements which are personal and unique.
Unitarian Universalism places great emphasis on individual freedom of belief. A Unitarian Universalist marriage ceremony is based on the personal integrity of the participants rather than on institutional forms. Inclusiveness is highly valued and Unitarian Universalist ceremonies strive to honor different religious backgrounds and cultural traditions.
Weddings are provided at no charge to people who have been members of UUCA for at least one year. Fees for nonmembers or people who have been members of UUCA for less than a year are set at the discretion of the officiating minister, in consultation with Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association recommendations.
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because the move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would we to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back—it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it. (Anne Morrow Lindberg)
For many reasons a marriage falls short of expectation. The days are cold. The nights are long. Again and again. The marriage partners try to recapture the dream they had; to live the vision they both once believed. Yet the marriage is broken. It is a struggle of impossibility. All too often, confronted by society’s uncomprehending disapproval, the other’s disappointment and resentment, and one’s own specters of failure and inadequacy, the choice must be made to walk alone. Paths must part. (Rev. Rudolph Nemser)
When people marry, they make vows to each other. When the marriage ends, it is emotionally helpful and healing to be released from such vows and to begin again in a spirit of compassion, forgiveness, and hopefulness.
Questions about the Unitarian Universalist Ceremony of Hope (more can be found at BeliefNet)
- When? At any time the participants are ready; before or after civil divorce.
- Who Participates? The couple, a minister, and friends and family. This is a more intimate group than for a wedding, but large enough to reflect the community in which the family has lived. As a community event with a message of affirmation and hope, this would be a good ceremony for including children, who may also feel the relief at the resolution of the tensions they’ve felt in their parents’ marriage.
- The Ceremony: While each ceremony is unique, here are some elements that suggest what might be involved. In the welcome, the minister invokes the sanctity of the church setting: “We are gathered here in a place made holy by the aspirations and dreams of many men and women here today we bring ourselves and our hopes.” The minister sounds an optimistic note, acknowledging that this may mark the end of a period of great pain for the couple: “We assemble with many feelings: sadness and disappointment and apprehension. But also, perhaps, with relief and hope and approval.”The minister points out that the couple’s life journey requires their marriage to end “in this solemn, courageous–and hopeful–time of divorce.” They are asked if it is indeed their intention to “sunder those noble and sacred bonds and dreams,” and they affirm that this is true.The minister reminds them that they were married within the community, and that the community is now present for their divorce. The individuals are then led in an affirmation that, though their marriage is ending, they will endeavor to value the past and enter a new, respectful relationship that transcends the pain and bitterness of the recent past.
Divorce Rites are provided at no charge to people who have been members of UUCA for at least one year. Fees for nonmembers or people who have been members of UUCA for less than a year are set at the discretion of the officiating minister, in consultation with Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association recommendations.
Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go. (Unknown)
When a child comes into a family, we pause in reverence for the miracle of birth and the gift of life. From time immemorial, parents have gathered in places of worship with families and friends to rejoice in their children and welcome them into the larger community of faith. And so do we today.
In Unitarian Universalist tradition, we do not usually baptize infants. This is for two reasons. First, we do not believe in original sin (believing rather in the original blessing of each life), and second, a baby is not yet old enough to choose his or her spiritual path. Instead, we offer a naming and dedication ceremony which celebrates each child in his or her uniqueness and asks for the commitment of the parents and congregation to the child’s well-being and development through the years.
In the dedication ceremony, which is held during a Sunday morning service, each child is blessed with a rose, symbolizing both their loveliness and the unfolding possibility of his or her life, and with water, symbolizing his or her innocence and the source of life in which he or she came into this world. Each family is presented with a Certificate of Dedication as well as a book written by a Unitarian Universalist author. It is a joyful rite of passage both for the family and the congregation as a whole.
Child dedications are included in worship services throughout the year. To inquire about a Child Dedication, please contact Rev. Makar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Child Dedications are typically held during Sunday morning services at special times of the year, like Mother’s Day.
Questions about our Child Dedications
- Do we need to be members of the congregation? While there is not a formal requirement for membership, the dedication ceremony is most meaningful when the families participating feel a connection with the congregation and with Unitarian Universalist faith and values.
- Can we include a recognition of god-parents for our child/children? Yes. If there are special people that you have asked to take on this committed relationship with your child/children, then the dedication ceremony is a place to honor that commitment.
- Our child/children have not been baptized or dedicated and are no longer infants. Can we still have them dedicated? Yes. We dedicate children and youth of all ages, with appropriate changes to the ceremony reflecting the age of the children being dedicated.
- Is there a fee for having our child dedicated? There is no fee for child dedications in our Sunday services. We are glad to have a chance to celebrate our youngest members and the future they will help to build.
- Can we have a private dedication, or does it need to be held with the congregation? Occasionally, there are circumstances in which a private dedication makes sense, but for the most part, families are encouraged to see the dedication as an event for the whole community. If a family wishes to dedicate their child or children privately in a ceremony that does not involve a congregational commitment to the family and vice versa, it will be handled much like a wedding with a fee for the minister and rental charges if it is held at the church.
It is our faith that each child born is one more redeemer. (Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs)
I share with you the agony of your grief,
The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain.
I can but offer what my love does give,
The strength of caring,
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.
This I do in quiet ways,
That on your lonely path
You may not walk alone. (Howard Thurman)
A Unitarian Universalist memorial service celebrates the life of the deceased. The service is personalized; it is developed by the family and the presiding minister in order to draw hearts together in the healing people can offer each other in times of great loss. Usually there are tributes from family members and friends of the deceased, a homily and prayer/meditation offered by the presiding minister, and beautiful music. The service is not so much about ending the relationship with the deceased as beginning a new way of appreciating his or her life.
Memorial services are provided at no charge to UUCA members. Fees for nonmembers are set at the discretion of the officiating minister, in consultation with Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association recommendations.
Please understand that, in fairness to everyone, we cannot confirm the date for a memorial service until the availability of the presiding UUCA minister has been confirmed.
It is UUCA policy that officiants for memorials in our building are UUCA clergy or lay ministers.
To live in this world
You must be able to do three things:
To love what is mortal;
To hold it
Against your bones knowing
Your own life depends on it;
And, when the time comes to let it go;
To let it go. (Mary Oliver)