Rites of Passage
Unitarian Universalists welcome babies, toddlers and children into the congregation through a Dedication ceremony. Sometimes it is called a Baby Blessing or a Baby Naming, but the goal is the same: To have the congregation dedicate itself to the well being of the child, and to have the child dedicate him or herself to a life of righteousness and compassion. Sometimes the grandparents are involved in the ceremony, as are godparents. Sometimes readings are included, such as this famous passage of Kahlil Gibran:
“Someone once asked a wise man, ‘Speak to us of children’ and the wise man said: ‘Your children are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
‘You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
‘You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.'”
Below please find a sample of a Dedication Ceremony. It can be shortened a great deal and made part of a Worship Service with ease. It can be kept this long and be held after the Worship service and coffee hour is over. The minister will work with the parents or guardians to craft a service that is personal and powerful.
Another Rite of Passage occurs as the child begins Middle School and is given a Chalice (a symbol of our Faith). Additionally, when a child starts high school and deepens her or his own theologies, a “Credo Statement” is created. A service led by the students (with help from the Minister and other adults) is held when there is a critical mass of students in this age group.