tg rite of passageK

"Changing your gender or affirming your gender identity is an important moment of new beginning."

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"Ceremony usually marks an important point in someone’s life, perhaps a transition into a new phase of life (a rite of passage), a celebration of a commitment to a new or an old relationship (as in a relationship blessing or wedding), or to help a person to process the change that they are passing through, often involving to remember, commit or let go."

About Ceremony

interfaith minister UK

"Unconventional
ceremonies are
often amongst
the most beautiful."


One Spirit Interfaith Foundation - training interfaith ministers in the UK

One Spirit Interfaith Foundation
One Spirit Interfaith Foundation trains people to be Interfaith Ministers and offers cemonies, including wedding ceremonies and spiritual counselling to people of all faiths or none.

UK Interfaith Ministers Association

Interfaith Ministers Association
The Interfaith Ministers Association (IMA) provides support to the spiritual community of ministers and counsellors who offer ceremonies for weddings, civil partnerships, namings, blessings, funerals and memorials and more private sessions for personal counselling, direction or healing.


About Ceremony

"Every rite of passage is unique, and offers an opportunity to be marked in whatever way seems most appropriate for the person who it’s intended for."

Feedback for ceremonies:

“I am sitting here in tears. I love my ceremony. There is nothing I would change.”

“Thank you for your wonderful work. Very inspiring and clear – lovely.”

“These are beautiful vows. The first one hit just the right note for me.”

“I'm going to read the ceremony several times…there is so much in it that resonates with me.”


About rites of passage, about ceremony

On this page I say a little about:

What is a rite of passage?
What is ceremony and when and why may a ceremony be important
What to expect at a ceremony

What is a rite of passage?

A rite of passage is intended to help a person prepare for a new stage of life that they are moving into, to help them to step into this new period and taking on their new identity to be acknowledged and welcomed by others. It may involve a passing on of wisdom, the offering of a gift or an important life teaching from those who’ve already made the transition.

Life involves continuing growth and frequent change. At different points throughout our lives, the transitions may become more profound as we move from one way of living to another. We may be facing a move away from our parents and needing to fend for ourselves for the first time, overcoming the passing of a loved one, or facing uncertainty after losing our job.

Traditionally, birth, marriage and death have been marked by all cultures as important events in a person’s life, as well as being points of departure from an old to a new way of living (and in the case of death, for those who are left behind after a loved one has passed on). The difficult transition during adolescence, of preparing to face adult life, is also given prominence by many different societies and faith groups.

Yet these aren’t the only rites of passage that an individual may face, nor is marriage the only joyous new beginning that an adult might encounter (and of course, many of us do not marry). Changing your gender or affirming your gender identity is an equally important moment of new beginning. A rite of passage marks such a transition.

A ritual may embody some aspect of what the change involves. Taking an extreme example, many cultures still mark a young person’s transition into adulthood with an action that scars and causes pain, as a symbol of the difficulty that adult life will bring. Such actions aim to equip a person for their new role, to remind them of a principle that will serve them well, to abruptly mark the passing from their former way of living, or to help them call upon their inner resources as they move into the new period of their lives. For a person who is changing gender, such a ritual might include giving thanks for a group (e.g. of friends) who represent your "old" or false gender, who've shared their sisterhood or brotherhood and wisdom with you and will continue to support you, then receiving the love, gifts and welcome of friends or others representing your "new" or true gender.

The form that such a marking takes needs to be meaningful for you, the person whom it’s meant to serve. There are no "must do’s", essential rituals or traditions that need to be included. Every rite of passage is unique, and offers an opportunity to be marked in whatever way seems most appropriate for the person or people that it’s intended for.

Ceremony serves an important role in personal growth and for navigating what would otherwise be a confusing and difficult period of change. The intention of a ceremony is to help smooth transition, to celebrate and help prepare, to nurture and offer the wider support of family, friends and others around you. This should be an event that is marked in the way that’s right for you and best helps you to achieve wholeness.

What is ceremony and when and why may a ceremony be important?

Ceremony has been an important part of human life throughout recorded history. A ceremony usually marks an important point in someone’s life, perhaps a transition into a new phase of life (a rite of passage), a celebration of a commitment to a new or an old relationship (as in a relationship blessing or wedding), or to help a person to process the change that they are passing through, often involving to remember, commit or let go.

A ceremony causes those who take part in it to stop for a short while and reflect on what they are marking and, when relevant, to commit themselves to and better prepare themselves for the steps they will take for the life they will lead after. This change can happen at a deep subconscious level, as well as with what’s being brought to mind and what emotions are being raised on the surface. In this sense, there is often something primordial about ceremony, tapping into a deep instinct and connecting all the people who take part in it in a very natural way.

Ceremonies may be secular, but usually involve acknowledging that a higher power gives guidance and blessing (asking for favour and protection). Interfaith ceremonies do make such an acknowledgement. An interfaith ceremony allows people of many different faiths, those having differing notions ways of expressing their spirituality, and those who are agnostic to share in a way that is meaningful for all.

Some or all of the elements described below will normally be present in a ceremony, although these don't have to be orchestrated in a formal or very structured way (some of the most meaningful ceremonies are quite informal and unconventional in nature). Which are relevant and most meaningful for you will be discussed with you. Every ceremony is unique – the right ceremony for you will be created especially for you. It is this uniqueness that marks out a "ceremony" from a regularly repeated "service".

One of the greatest aspects of creating ceremony that excites me as an interfaith minister is the opportunity to work with individuals to craft something that is truly their own. A ceremony need not be complicated, nor involve many people. It can be held virtually anywhere – indoors or outdoors, in a home or special venue, in a sacred place or beautiful setting in Nature. It's important that it is specifically created and meaningful for you, but of course I will help with suggestions and in the preparation.

What is a ceremony? I offer my thoughts on the purpose and value of ceremony in this brief video. Simply click on the play button above to watch.


What to expect at a ceremony

Key people in a ceremony

Apart from the person (people) to be blessed, several other family members or friends might have previously been asked to play a part in the service, either as supporters or in actually taking part in the ceremony by offering a reading, reflection, commitment or other contribution. That said, many ceremonies just involve the minister and person or people that they are intended for.

There's no need for anyone else to be present. Any words that are to be spoken will normally be written down and the minister will prompt when these should appear during the ceremony.

Role of the minister

The minister has been trained in how to prepare and conduct ceremonies, and their ordination marks their commitment to serving the people they are invited to minister for to the best of their ability and according to a strict ethical code. It is essential that the minister talks with the key persons involved in the ceremony ahead of the time of the event, to understand what they want from the ceremony, any specific ideas that they have about the content (e.g. readings and music that they would like to include), and to discuss the roles that they might play.

During the ceremony, the minister is the person who orchestrates the order of prayers, readings, actions and so on. They introduce and close the ceremony, offer one or more blessings, and may also make a brief address to help inspire reflection on the purpose of the day. The minister will have a faith of their own (not brought into the ceremony), and will lead prayers, blessings and the invitation for the Divine to be present throughout the ceremony. They will also facilitate the timings of the ceremony.

Gathered observers / congregation

Everyone attending the ceremony might be provided with an Order of Ceremony sheet, so that they know what is happening at any point and what they might be expected to do (e.g. when to stand). The minister will also offer relevant prompts. The wider gathering act both as observers and participants in the service, and may be asked to join in any songs or prayers, if they feel able to.

Arranging space for a ceremony

The space in which the ceremony takes place will usually be arranged to allow everyone to be able to see what is happening and to feel connected to each other. In smaller groups, a circle of chairs or horseshoe arrangement is usually better than having several rows. The minister, those for whom the ceremony is for and their immediate supporters might sit within the circle (the minister will normally stand throughout the ceremony). A small altar may also be placed at the centre.

Venue

There are no special requirements for a venue, other than the ability to comfortably hold the people who are taking part in or who are otherwise invited to the ceremony. Public buildings or open spaces, family homes, hospices, cruise ships, beaches, hotels and gardens are all possibilities. The minister will (usually privately) bless the chosen place to be a positive place and a sacred space before the start of the ceremony.

Altar

An altar is a centrepiece, usually laid out on a small table, serving to remind everyone gathered that we have come ‘to the table’ of the Divine. In reverence of its special meaning, an altar is usually covered by a clean cloth, sometimes of a colour chosen to be in keeping with the ceremony (e.g. a golden cloth might be used for blessing the receipt of a harvest). Similarly, one or more items might be placed on the altar to signify meaning or bring attention to what is being commemorated or celebrated. If they wish, the individuals who have asked for the ceremony might choose items that are personal and meaningful to them to include on the altar. One or more candles are also usually also placed on the altar, as a reminder of the Divine’s light and warmth at the heart of the gathering.

The minister’s dress

The minister will normally be smartly dressed in respect for the importance of the occasion. They will usually wear a stole, a shawl worn around their shoulders that was given to them at the time of their ordination and that may be adorned with decoration that is particularly liked by or has meaning for them. This essentially marks them out as the appointed minister in the gathering, in much the same way that a dog collar might do for an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest. Stoles are often worn by ministers of many different faiths. The decoration on my stole represents the sound wave pattern for several key words in my minister's vow.

Others’ dress

Normally, no particular dress code is suggested for a ceremony, unless the person (people) organising it request this. Most people feel most comfortable dressing smartly, but this is usually just a personal choice. Even though a ceremony is intended to be taken seriously, it doesn’t have to be a ‘stuffy', formal affair; informal gatherings are equally valid. What matters most is that the intention of the hearts of those coming to be blessed or offer promises is genuine.


How to contact me

I can be easily reached by one of the following means:

Clive Johnson
Email:   clive@clivejohnsonministry.com
Phone:  +44 (0)7956 942980
Skype:  cliverj2



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