Following the ICUU Symposium nine members of the European Unitarian Universalist Union joined by Burundian Fulgence Ndagijimana took part in a day-long training on Rites of Passage (weddings, child dedications and memorial services).
Led by Brian Kiely (Canada) and Jill McAllister (USA) the program followed a well tested program offered by the Canadian Unitarian Council. For four decades the CUC has used Lay Chaplains to ensure services are provided in congregations where no minister is available or where community demand for our style of service is too great for the minister to handle.
During the seven hour session participants developed an understanding of the mechanics of such services and acquired useful resources. More importantly they got to explore the reasons and deeper meanings of these important services. Brian noted that being with people during these meaningful moments is a gift, for we are invited in when people are ‘most’... most happy, most sad, most thoughtful, most confused, most afraid and most importantly most vulnerable. In these times officiants are invited to walk with them and assist them in making these transitions. It might be the best ministry any of us (lay or ordained) gets to do.
We even had a practive wedding rehearsal (pictured at left).
Jill describes how the job is to use the service elements to build a container that holds all the dreams, hopes and emotions associated with these passages.
Much of the material is available from www.cuc.ca .