First UU Columbus

A Welcoming Congregation

Our Ceremonies
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The human family in every culture has seen fit to use the art of ritual especially at times of transition. Birth, life pairing, death, coming of age, adoption, graduations, and anniversaries. These transitions, after all, often call forth our highest ideals and vision.

Rituals will be enduring art forms which help us to find meaningful contour in the complex joys and sorrows of our lives. They can lead our hearts to dance and express the depth-dimension in our lives with transforming beauty and grace.

In this congregation, all of these transitions have been and will be celebrated. Some ritual is "simple" and some ritual is "ornate"--at least that's a common take. There are no final forms for ritual binding on everyone, and personal taste will always have its say; but tradition and innovation can both teach as eloquently as personal taste.

Marriages and Unions PDF Print E-mail

Wedding_Ceremony_full_optMarriages and holy unions are ceremonies where two people promise to live out their lives and grow together in peace. According to the laws of the State of Ohio, only marriages partake of the blessing of the State and Law, but this congregation celebrates with equal dignity the Nash_weddding_optmarriage of two people who share gender. The state has no agency over what we deem holy and good.

These ceremonies most often include vows, processionals, special music, and words of blessing and admonition. Many use the ceremony of the cup developed originally by the Universalist conclave for ritual enrichment, the Humiliati. Others use rituals from their ethnic heritage, such as a wreath of flowers or a lei.

To arrange a wedding or union with this congregation, you must inform both the office manager and one of the ministers of the congregation. Usually the couple meets with the minister before the ceremony.

Naming Ceremonies PDF Print E-mail

Some of our spiritual ancestors in Poland gave up the idea of infant Baptism 400 years ago, as they did not count a child as having been born with a sin that needed to be washed away. But they did recognize the need to welcome children with ceremony.Naming_Ceremony_large

Over the centuries, the idea of a Dedication Ceremony, and now a Naming Ceremony, developed. Originally, the focus of the ceremony was on the parents...they "dedicated" their lives to bringing up the child in a good Christian home so that when the child was older, she or he might choose Baptism. But in time, as the idea of Baptism itself lost favor with Unitarians and Universalists, the focus shifted more to the child, and to the naming and welcoming of the infant into the common life and family.

For members of the congregation, this ceremony will ordinarily take place in one of three Sunday Celebrations during the year, the last Sunday in September, the Sunday before Christmas, and Mother's Day, the Second Sunday in May. The ceremony may also take place at the home, or be held in the Worship Center at a more private time.

Here in Columbus, the ceremony involves Seven Blessings--the blessings of the four elements, and the three names usually given a child. These last three the celebrant interprets with the help of the parents.

There is no fee for this ceremony for members. Only private ceremonies are available to non-members, after consultation with one of the ministers.

Funerals and Memorials PDF Print E-mail

In general, funerals are ceremonies which commemorate the life of person who has recently died and where the body is present. Memorial usually refers to the same sort of event where neither the body nor the urn of ashes is present.

There are also gravesite services, and ceremonies for the scattering of ashes. These may take place independently of the memorial or funeral. These are often short simple rituals, without stories of memory.

But in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, the person's life is central for the understanding of our spiritual perspective. Theology is never something abstract for us. It's always rooted in individual lives... in community.

Thus, the memorial is a sacred opportunity to lift up the life of one of our brothers or sisters in love. The ministers of the congregation often give a eulogy at a memorial, but their words are often cradled in the testimonies of many other people who have known the person better. Silence and music are also often part of the rite, which is often a simple arrangement of readings, silence, stories and meditations.

The church maintains a Memorial Garden and a Scatter Garden as well. There are also Memorial Bricks and Plaques available. For information on these, please contact the church office. scatter_garden_opt

Each ceremony is unique. There is no prayer book with a basic model, nor are there homilies about life after death, about which Unitarian Universalists hold a variety of opinions. However, our Universalist ancestors were clear about one thing at least: to wit, there is no such place as hell. In this day and age, such an affirmation may still be a solace to some.

There is no fee for one of the ministers leading the memorial for a member, but for memorials for non-members the fee for the ministers is negotiated with the family. Fees may be waived in the case of hardship.

Other Ceremonies PDF Print E-mail

Parents may chose to celebrate the adoption of their son or daughter. Partners who have sadly decided to separate from each other may want to lift up that sad and difficult event within the arms of respectful ritual. Our teens go through a Coming of Age program which takes a year to complete. It is concluded by a moving ritual conducted and designed by the young folks themselves as part of their process. Some folks on their death bed have asked for rituals of blessing and reconciliation, and sometimes those who retire from their livelihoods request ceremonial marking of that transition.

You are welcome to talk with the ministers or lay leaders about any of these rituals, and how they have experienced them in their lives. We are congregation in the "free church" tradition, meaning that we are responsible for creating on our own the rituals that sanctify and uplift the transitions in our lives. You are welcome to become a part of that sacred, most human process.