Child Dedications / Naming Ceremonies
What is in a name? Naming Ceremonies are blessings and covenants.The minister will create the child dedication or naming ceremony that best meets your spiritual needs. A selection of possible texts for naming ceremonies used in our congregation are gathered below. In the ceremony congregants are invited to write their own blessings for the child and these are read during the ceremony.
“Blessings are most powerful when they are formed in the context of relationships. This blessing that [name of parents] and sister and brother [name of siblings] bestow on [name of child] will set the ground in which all other events in their relationship together will arise. These words are not just idle words spoken. The community offers the nurturing ground in which this family will be known and loved. Here their relationship is honored and revered. We provide a communal shelter in which this family can find refuge from the storms of bigotry that still rage relentlessly beyond these doors. These words of blessing become the foundation in which this child can always depend on as we, along with ghir parents, declare to ghir the blessings of being. …
We wish you beauty in life and strength of mind, body and spirit.
We wish you empowerment for self and compassion for others.
We wish you a strong sense of honour, with humility to recognize strengths beyond your own.
We wish you the gift of joy and laughter, and reverence for all the wonders of the Universe.
May you seek and find your own fulfillment in life. [full name of child] welcome into our family.”
Below is a ceremony for a transgender naming ceremony that we have used in our congregation:
Minister: The tradition of naming people is as varied as there are countries. In the US it is typical that a person would be named by their parents at birth and that name would follow the person all the days of their life. But that is not the way it works in many countries around the world and it does not always happen here that way either.
For example my Grandfather was born James Millard but he was always called Millard. His son, a junior, is called Jim. But my Grandfather’s brother, born Frank, was called Jim. My cousin, Robert Craig changed his name to Robert Avery when he was 13 in order to be a junior and then adopted the name Avery. [The celebrant may substitute their own family’s naming story examples.]
Some children are given new Christian names at confirmation and then will go by that name from that point on. Some have names that are only used by the family and their formal name is used only by those outside of the family. Still others adopt a nickname by which they are forever called. Names are not always cast in stone at birth. Some Native American tribes do not name their children until some attribute is discovered about the child. And the name might change again when the child becomes an adult.
And in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures names would change as the person was transformed and embraced their true identity. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul all to indicate a new person in relationship with their god. Today, we are celebrating the adoption of a new name that reflects a truth that has been hidden but is now revealed.
Poem: “how to love a person” by AJ Tigarian[i]
just press your palm to their palm
warm and full of possibility
skip across their soul like
a flat stone flung from the river’s edge
and then sink into them
come to rest amid the silt and debris
wiggle your toes in the particles
of everything they are
you don’t have to do anything different
you don’t have to try harder
you don’t have to re-mold yourself
into something that makes you
somehow less you
and neither do they.
stand beside them
as they meet their true self
let them introduce you to their “me”
as they find it, one bit at a time
or all at once.
gather up their tears, their smiles,
their joys and their discomforts
when they can’t carry them anymore
remind them where they’re going
go along with them, whenever they ask
witness their struggles and triumphs
open your heart and your arms
press your cheek to their cheek
and love them more when the sun rises
than you did when it set on the day before
#211 / #212 We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder/ We are Dancing Sarah’s Circle
[Sing one verse from We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder then one verse from We are Dancing Sarah’s Circle using the same key. In the hymnal Singing the Living Tradition there is a key change between the two songs. We substituted “sisters, brothers, all” with “We are Dancing On” for two reasons: The first and primary reason is to be inclusive of all genders and non-gender people and second to be parallel with the call in the first song to be climbing on.]
Minister: By what name shall you be known? [ii]
Partner or Family member[s]: The name shall be ________.
______: My name shall be ______
Minister: May the community respond by repeating—Your name shall be ______.
Minister: Bear this name as a reflection of your true self. Share this name as a reflection of Mercy. Offer this name as a reflection of Justice.
[i] “how to love a person” © by AJ Tigarian. Printed here with permission. Permission is given by the author to use this poem in other naming ceremonies with acknowledgement of the author.
[ii] This last section is a wildly loose adaptation from a section of a naming ceremony written by Lutheran priest Nadia Bolz-Weber http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2012/01/liturgical-naming-rite-for-a-transgendered-church-member/ While there is sufficient changes in wording of the final three sentences to stamp Rev. Fred L Hammond’s name to it, the origination of the idea is unmistakably the Rev. Nadia Bolz Weber’s. And at Rev. Nadia’s site, credit is given for the naming ceremony there as being adapted from one used by Episcopal Priest Michele Morgan. There is an evolution of adaptations going on here.