Rites of Passage
The milestones in our lives are multiple, personal, and often complex. So we need to mark such occasions with rituals that respond to each unique set of circumstances.
In addition to the well-known rites of passage when we are born, when we form new relationships, and when we die, UUs find it important to mark — in big or small ways — any changes or special challenges in our lives.
Sometimes you’ll want a party. Other situations will seem more appropriate to mark with personalized rituals. It’s always up to you.
We celebrate weddings in the way that will be most meaningful to you. Members are encouraged to meet with Rev. Paul — and to make arrangements for facilities rental — well in advance. Paul can help with premarital or relationship assessment if you wish. We can also make referrals to other experienced officiants.
Unitarian Universalist ministers and congregations have celebrated same-sex unions since the 1970s, and throughout the decades we’ve been among the strongest advocates for marriage equality. And sometimes couples are already legally married but haven’t had a public ceremony; we can help with that.
In the joining of two families, there might be some negotiation needed to fulfill differing expectations. Because Unitarian Universalism is an intentionally multi-faith tradition, we’re experienced with these situations and will help you prepare. We don’t put any theological hurdles in your way. You’ve probably got a lot of other things to think about!
You may or may not want to dedicate your child to a deity. The main idea here is that we are dedicating ourselves to the care and well-being of this child. If you are a member of the congregation, we prefer to hold this ceremony during a Sunday service — because we all want to confirm our support of both children and parents, now and in the decades to come. That’s what we’re all about.
Maybe a simple ritual with symbols such as water, a candle, or a flower will honor your cultural traditions or ideals. Or special songs, words, or promises from parents, family, or friends. You’ll decide in consultation with Rev. Paul.
Coming of Age
The Coming of Age program at BUF is offered to those in grades 7-8. It’s an intensive 7-month program that provides opportunities for developing each youth’s spiritual and religious identity — culminating in the preparation of individual “credo” statements.
We also offer comprehensive sexuality education for those in early grade school, middle, and high school. For more information about this program contact our Director of Lifelong Learning, Genia Allen-Schmid.
Bridging is a Unitarian Universalist tradition that celebrates the passage from high school graduation … to whatever comes next. Sometimes graduates have been part of BUF religious education since they were born; whatever is the case for you, there will be pride, tears, and good wishes for you from the entire congregation.
This is one of the things we do best. Unitarian Universalist memorial services, or celebrations of life — or whatever it makes sense for you to call it in your situation — are always prepared according to the unique preferences of the family. Circumstances of death vary so much, as do family, religious, and cultural traditions, so we always take the time to consider how to best serve the often complex needs and desires of survivors, while at the same time doing right by the deceased.
Most frequently, the focus of a memorial service is on tributes and sharing stories about our loved one who has died. These may come from pre-designated family and friends, and/or include spontaneous brief anecdotes that attendees offer to share.
Theological reflections are entirely optional, and levels of formality vary. We often have a reception with light refreshments afterward — and some families prefer to have the reception only, sometimes including a period in which our attention is called to a microphone from which family and friends can share memories.
We also encourage people to prepare in advance for their memorial service. Whatever your age, this is a valuable exercise in self-awareness. It will also be a big gift to your loved ones — who at the time of your death will need to focus on a healthy grieving process, and sometimes overwhelming logistical tasks.
Rev. Paul is happy to meet one-on-one with you about preparing for your own death, and/or he has materials that can help guide you on your own reflections. Either way, it’s something to do at your own pace. And BUF will keep a file with any memorial instructions you wish to have available upon your death — this can be as simple as loose print-outs of readings, or lists of favorite songs, or very general do’s and don’ts. Of course you’ll be welcome to add or remove materials as you wish.
If you’re not affiliated with BUF, we can refer you to other compassionate, experienced officiants, and arrange for the rental of our sanctuary and reception hall.