Ceremonies and Special Services in Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism is a theologically diverse religious tradition and our congregations are autonomous, so the ceremonies and special services held in our congregations are of a diverse nature. Some common ceremonies include new member ceremonies, a variety of youth-oriented ceremonies, weddings, and memorial services.
New Member Ceremonies
Unitarian Universalist congregations are all welcoming places for newcomers. You need not be a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation to participate in most aspects of congregational life, from joining in worship to serving on committees.
When adults choose to formally join a Unitarian Universalist congregation, the congregation may hold a special service to honor this. These services may include the following elements:
- An introductory religious education course for newcomers
- A special welcome during Sunday services with music or readings
- Signing a membership book
Child Dedication Ceremonies
Many Unitarian Universalist congregations have child dedication ceremonies for infants, young adopted children, or young children whose families have recently joined the congregation. These are usually crafted by the parents and the minister working closely together and can include the following:
- A blessing for the new life of the child
- An expression of the parent or parents’ hopes for the child
- A promise by the congregation to support and nurture the child in its spiritual life
Coming of Age Ceremonies
Unitarian Universalist congregations may hold a special coming of age ceremony after their youth complete a year-long period of learning and exploration. These ceremonies can include the following elements:
- A time for reflections from parents, youth advisors, or religious educators
- Youth reading statements of personal belief
- The presentation of small gifts to the youths
Congregations that have high school-aged youth, seniors or 17-18 year-olds, may conduct a bridging ceremony, where youth “bridge” into young adulthood. These ceremonies can include the following elements:
- Workshops or meetings for youth to prepare them for bridging
- Gifts given in the ceremony to the bridging youths
- A time for reflections from the youth, their family, youth advisors, or religious educators
Wedding services are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the love of two individuals who have chosen to come together in marriage. As with other Unitarian Universalist ceremonies, each wedding is crafted with the unique wishes of the participants involved. If you would like to have a Unitarian Universalist minister officiate at your wedding, please contact a Unitarian Universalist minister near you.
In addition to blessing heterosexual unions, Unitarian Universalist congregations and ministers welcome the opportunity to bless same-sex marriages. Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people and have a long history of promoting the equal right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to marry.
Services to honor loved ones who have passed on are often very personal occasions. In Unitarian Universalist congregations, 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 time to remember the deceased with a story or anecdote
- Hymn singing or other music
- A time for personal reflection
If you would like to have a Unitarian Universalist minister preside over a funeral or other memorial service, please contact a Unitarian Universalist minister near you.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.