Last weekend was very Humanism-centered for me.
This past August it was my privilege to receive endorsement from the Humanist Society to be a Humanist Celebrant. This means, among other things, that I am legally authorized in the same way that ordained clergy people are to officiate weddings. The Humanist Society, founded in 1939 as a form of Humanist Quakerism, connected in the 1990s with the American Humanist Association to provide this service for its members and everyone who would seek the assistance of an endorsed celebrant. This isn’t just about presiding over weddings, though. The Humanist community and non-religious people in general still seek ceremonies to mark other significant moments in life. Funerals and memorial services are clearly necessary, but there can also be Child Welcomings, Coming of Age ceremonies, and the like. For me, it provides a means to continue, in a secular fashion, the ministry to which I devoted myself in my early 20s. However, being a Humanist Celebrant is not exactly the same as being a Christian Minister, as the expectations and approaches with regard to ceremonies can differ widely between the two. In order to be more certain about what I’m doing, I signed up for Humanist Celebrant training through the Humanist Institute.
Held at the American Humanist ASsociation’s offices Washington, DC, this one-day training provided a surprisingly in-depth crash course on what it means to be a Humanist Celebrant. We covered not only typical ceremonies and styles, but also the business aspect of this type of work. Although it is unusual for someone to really make a living as a celebrant, it is often a type of side job, and one that needs to be treated seriously. The training and the organized collection of ceremonies and business-related documents will certainly prove invaluable to me.
The next day being Sunday, I had arranged to stay in DC to do some sightseeing, and also to pay a visit to the Washington Ethical Society. This Ethical Culture congregation, also affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, is thoroughly humanistic in its outlook and approach. It’s fine if members have theistic beliefs, but as with all Ethical Culture Societies, at WES it’s all about ‘deed before creed.’ If you’re going to be in the DC area over a weekend, I encourage you to check them out.
It was a good weekend, and I look forward to participating in more Humanist events in the not-too-distant future.