Unitarian communities offer people the freedom to create ceremonies to mark life’s key moments in a way that is meaningful for them. Each ceremony is created specifically for the people involved and will reflect what is meaningful for them. No two Unitarian ceremonies are ever quite the same.
As well as ceremonies to mark birth, marriage and death, we can also create other rituals to mark life’s turning points – coming of age, divorce, rededication of wedding vows, to mention but a few.
Child Blessings and Naming Ceremonies
Unitarians use various names for ceremonies that celebrate new life – baptism, child dedication, naming and blessing. We encourage families to create with us a ceremony that reflects their own joy in the miracle of life and their commitment to the well-being of their child. Parents are not asked to make particular theological commitments and may choose to involve godparents, grandparents and other children in the ceremony if they wish. Such services may be held here at Essex Church or at another venue and are a joyful way to bring family and friends together for a special occasion, giving thanks for the precious gift of life that each child represents.
Essex Church is registered for the celebration of marriages (including marriages of same-sex couples – at the time of writing we believe we are the only religious building in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to be registered for same-sex weddings). Unitarians were at the forefront of the recent campaign to gain full marriage equality in places of worship and have long supported gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. If you’ve ever attended a Unitarian wedding you’ll know how joyously personal such a ceremony can be. We encourage a couple to express their relationship through their choice of readings, vows, music and each ceremony will reflect the couple’s own spiritual orientation as well as a Unitarian ethos. It can be as traditional or as alternative a ceremony as you would like it to be. Anyone can choose to be married in a Unitarian church and we specialise in ceremonies for couples of mixed faith, for humanists and atheists, for people who have been divorced and all other variations of the human condition. Planning a wedding will involve several meetings and we ask couples to attend some of our Sunday services so that you get to know the community in which you will be married.
Funerals and Memorial Services
Unitarians mark death with a service that celebrates someone’s life as well as mourns their death. As with other ceremonies, we offer the opportunity to create a ceremony that is truly personal, reflecting the deceased person’s life and honouring their beliefs and those of their family and friends. Our minister visits the family at home and offers guidance in creating an appropriate ceremony, which may take place here at Essex Church or at a local cemetery, crematorium or green burial site.
General Assembly leaflets on Unitarian ceremonies: