Child dedications are usually celebrated during the Sunday worship services at a date mutually agreed upon by the parents and the minister.
Usually only one family dedication at a time occurs to allow each child and family to have the fullest personal attention. The ceremonies are usually conducted at the beginning of the worship service so that the children in the congregation or the family may also participate, and then go to a child care program or play room area. The ceremony is open to any and all family and friends. All are expected to remain for the entire worship experience.
The purpose of a child dedication is to recognize that child and his/her family as participants in the First Church Unitarian Universalist community. Unitarian Universalists believe that each child is a gift of the universe, a divine and pure being born into the world needing the care and nurture of many individuals to provide for their spiritual growth and well being.
The family is encouraged, though not required, to seek out spiritual mentors (God-parents) to name and recognize during the ceremony. The parents, the spiritual mentors and the congregation are invited to make a pledge to the child. The congregation, members, friends, and those who care to, often say the following words, or words that are similar: “We as a church are dedicated to strengthening one another in every good thing and are called upon to be faithful and generous in the care of all. Therefore we solemnly pledge that we will encompass this child and his/her family with our love and that we will extend a helping hand as we walk together on our spiritual path.”
The minister uses both a white rose and water brought forward by members and friends in the dedication service. The white rose symbolizes the innocence and purity of the child and the water represents the flow of life and the source of nourishment. The family provides the white rose. (a single stem, de-thorned rose). Then the child, and other children in the family, if there are any, are presented to and greeted by the gathered congregation. The choir and musician play appropriate music while this is happening.
The dedication ceremony is also the time when the child is recognized by name and the minister includes this naming as part of the ceremony.
Parents are invited to suggest readings, poems or prayers to use during the ceremony. A one time visit with the minister is expected so that the ceremony can be planned. It is not mandatory that one be a member of First Church Unitarian Universalist to hold a child dedication service, however the minister does talk about how you plan on involving the child or children in some religious programs and training. Contact the minister through the church office to arrange a conversation about a child dedication or to have questions answered about this important ceremony.