A Rite of Passage is a celebration to mark a milestone in an individual’s life. At the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, we regularly celebrate Child Dedications, Coming of Age ceremonies, Young Adult Bridgings, Weddings, and Memorial Services. Each of these ceremonies is a hinge in the life of one or more people; something is ending and something is beginning.
A Rite of Passage marks a holy moment in someone’s life that will not, cannot, come again. This moment is so important that we believe it should not go unobserved, rather it should be witnessed by the larger community, for it is the larger community who will support us as we pass from one stage of life into the next.
Unitarian Universalists believe every child is born in goodness. We also believe that we cannot determine the religious beliefs for anyone else, especially for infants. Therefore, a Child Dedication is not a cleansing of original sin or declaration of a child’s religious affiliation.
A Child Dedication ceremony is a time to remember that all children grow in the world that we are making. In a Child Dedication, the parents, godparents, and the larger community of friends and family dedicate themselves to the spiritual life of the child. A Dedication is also time to introduce a child by name, because it is by our names that we are recognized as unique individuals.
We invite all parents of children who have not been dedicated to consider having their children dedicated.
Coming of Age
Coming of Age is our celebration of young teenagers making the transition from childhood to adolescence. This passage takes place when bodies and minds are beginning the journey to spiritual adulthood. Our Coming of Agers spend a number of weeks discussing spirituality, participating in hands on projects, and having fun with adult mentors of their choosing and our Religious Education Director. A Coming of Age Recognition Ceremony takes place during the last Service of the church year in June.
The passage from teenager to young adult is profound. Leaving childhood behind means leaving home, beginning a career or college, and discovering exciting new freedoms and daunting responsibilities. This transition can be as difficult for parents as it is for the new young adults. Letting go and living in an empty nest can be as liberating and as frightening as graduation from teenagehood.
A Bridging Ceremony symbolically walks the young person out of a circle of teenagers and into a new and independent life. This ceremony publicly acknowledges that the individual is no longer a child, but an adult with all the rights and responsibilities that accompany this stage of life. The Bridging Ceremony also ritually confirms that the new adult will have continuing support from teenage friends, parents, and other adults, but in a new and more mature context.
A Wedding is a ceremony in which a couple publicly acknowledges their commitment to one another. Unitarian Universalist ministers encourage couples to take an active part in creating their Wedding service so the ceremony will reflect the couple’s understandings of life-long companionship and commitment.
Unitarian Universalist weddings are held in churches, outdoors, in homes, and in other locations of the couple’s choosing.
A Memorial Service is a celebration of a life. Unitarian Universalist ministers work with the family and closest friends to make a meaningful ceremony. We remember all the things our departed loved one brought to our lives and we mourn the great gap his or her passing leaves in our hearts. We share our memories of our loved one while acknowledging the array of emotions that death brings us.
Memorial services are held in the most suitable location (the church, at home, a funeral parlor, local auditorium) and are held the at most convenient time for the closest family and friends of the deceased.
Sometimes families will wish to have a short grave-side Committal ceremony when the body or ashes are buried.
Other Rites of Passage
You may be interested in celebrating another passage in your life or the life of one of your family members: Croning, Adoption, Divorce, Re-Affirmation of Wedding Vows, or something very particular to your life circumstances. If so, please contact our minister Rev. Elizabeth Stevens. She will help you build the most appropriate ceremony for your particular passage from one stage of life to the next.