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Baby Blessing / Baby Naming Ceremonies
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Baby Blessing / Baby Naming Ceremonies
We would like to have baptism-like ceremony for our 8 month-old son (my
parents really want him baptized, we are very non-religious). We've checked
out the Unitarian Church in Berkeley but their ministers are unavailable (or
not returning emails). We are also in the process of contacting the Unitarian
Church of Oakland. However, we'd LOVE RECOMMENDATIONS for anyone else
that might be able to perform a baptism kind of service for our son the
weekend of May 8th. Ideally, I'd love to do it outside as the gods reside in
nature for me but I'm really open to performing the service in an actual
church. Can anyone recommend someone that can do this kind of thing? Or
recommended a place where we can do this - church or otherwise? I just want
a cool minister that is most open to spirituality rather than one type of
religion and that represents a church that welcomes EVERYONE regardless of
creed, orientation, etc. We are desperate! Oh - and my parents are pretty
adamant about having a ''baptism certificate'' at the end of it.
Thanks for the help
It sounds like a Unitarian Universalist church would be a
good place for your son's ceremony.
You can try contacting the minister at the Berkeley
Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists - located at Cedar and
Rev. Ben Meyers
office phone: 510-841-4824
My friend had the same concerns about a wedding ceremony and discovered the
Celebrant Institute. Basically, a celebrant works with you to design your ideal
ceremony for your occasion and then performs it. My friend's wedding ceremony
(in NY) was very nice and exactly what she wanted. You can check out
http://celebrantinstitute.org/ and call 973-746-1792 or email
email@example.com for celebrants in CA.
We would like to celebrate the arrival of our adopted son in
our family and circle of friends and community with a
name/child blessing ceremony. For a few reasons we want this to
be a less christian/religious baptism, but more a celebration
of life and family. Any ideas or recommendations
on who would perform such a service? Any
churches that are more liberal and open? Thanks
while i've been a very lazy UU since going off to college, and so
have no real experience with the local churchs, i would reccomend
you look into the Unitarian Universalists, there are several
churchs and meetinghouses in the area, and they're the most
liberal, open, supportive group i know of
in fact now that i'm having a baby, i've been thinking about
going again (since i'll have no choice but be awake on sunday
mornings now...) because i really feel i benefited from the
community growing up. they're spiritual, but not religious in the
traditional sense, and really encourage people to work out their
own belief system in a supportive environment...
My mother-in-law is a non-denominational officiant that develops beautiful,
personal rituals for all kinds of life events - including baby blessings. She takes
of time to get to know the family and develop something very special that meets
Her name is Eileen Walsh and you can reach her at 408-257-4007.
Or, check our her website: http://home.earthlink.net/~ewdemeter/
I recommend you contact Eileen Walsh, who has studied and
created rituals for all kinds of life passages. She has worked
a great deal with various churches but she does not represent
any organized religion and is completely comfortable with
creating blessing ceremonies that don't invoke religious
themes. She will work around what you most cherish and value
for your child. Also, she's a grandmother of three and she's
great with kids (and adults too!) For more information, go to:
Good luck and congratulations!
My husband and I would like to have a non-religious, humanist naming ceremony
for our baby but have not been able to find an officiant. Does anyone have any
recommendations (preferably in San Francisco)?
Heron Freed Toor in San Francisco officiated at our wedding five years ago. She was wonderful. I know she does naming ceremonies and other things. She makes every ceremony very personal and you can be as spiritual or non spiritual as you want.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation does this exact thing.
My mother-in-law serves as a non-denominational officiant for all types of rituals and celebrations, including naming ceremonies and baby blessings. She does a great job of listening and consulting with the family or couple and creates rituals that are totally personal and reflect the tastes and values of her clients. She lives in San Jose but will travel all over the Bay Area.
Check out her web site for more information:
I wholeheartedly recommend:
Heron Freed Toor
Beautiful Weddings & Other Works of Heart
2285 Bay Street San Francisco 94123
415.563.0498 or 415.307.5664 (cell)
she does weddings, house blessings, baby namings, memorials, etc. she is the officiant for our vow renewal ceremony & came very highly rcommended to us, as well.
We used Hank Basayne for our son's welcoming ceremonies and he
was great. He is in the city. These may be old, but here are
some numbers: 415-346-7099 415-567-7044
We had a wonderful celebrant/officiant for our wedding and for our childrens' blessing ceremonies. She is located in SF but will travel. Her ceremonies are non-denominational and humanist and are written beautifully. Her name is Heron Freed Toor and she can be reached at 415-563-0498 or at worksofheart101[AT]aol.com. Congratulations on your new bundle! Deirdre
We had a wonderful naming ceremony at Clear Water Zendo with zen
priest Mary Mocine officiating. The zendo is around the corner
from us in Vallejo, so it was a natural choice. But I'm passing
on the idea because Mary made it so memorable and comfortable for
our family and attendant friends and relatives. She might be
willing to come to you; certainly worth asking. We too wanted a
humanist ceremony. We wanted to invoke spirtuality without
religious denomination, particularly since I'm Jewish and my
husband is Catholic. We also wanted a ceremony that would make my
husband's European-born parents feel no loss for the baptism we
were not having. It all worked beautifully. Mary solicited our
ideas, had some of her own, and happily agreed to incorporate
water into the ceremony to comfort my old-world inlaws. There was
time for us to speak our own words to our daughter and give her
special personal gifts. I heartily recommend Mary Mocine. contact
her at 707.649.2480
Re: an officiant for your naming ceremony. Try my friend Kimberly Satterfield (Emeryville); she performs marriages & committment ceremonies, etc. as In the Spirit Ministries @ 510-
658-9472 or kashi[AT]value.net. I checked with her about your naming ceremony and she was interested. Good luck!
Nicole, in response to your search for an officiant, you should check out wwww.ceremoniesandcelebrations.com. I haven't used her, but I have heard great things about her!
We are planning a baby blessing for our daughter's one year
birthday. I am looking for some poems, readings, or creative
ideas for a brief ceremony...especially things that talk about
promises from parents/community, blessings for a good life,
etc. If anyone has any references, I would greatly appreciate
You should look at The Family Medallion www.familymedallion.com
Originally, it was started as a ceremony (nondenominational) to
be used in a wedding where there were children involved from
previous marriages or relationships. It has since been used
for a variety of family celebrations, including Baptisms,
Adoptions etc. The Family Medallion itself is a metal medallion
with three interlocking circles representing a symbol of unity,
a tangible sign honoring the significant relationships that
bind together family and friends. It is truly unique and
My husband and I are expecting are first child this August.
Neither one of us is religious, but we are being asked by our
families (which are somewhat religious) if there will be a
baptism/celebration after our child is born. We don't feel
right having a baptism but are there other non-religious events
parents can have to celebrate a birth? I would love to hear how
other new, non-religious parents have handled this and if they
did have something, how they organized/explained it. Thanks.
We had a wonderful non-religious ceremony last year when my
daughter was about 5 months old. In my case though, we did not
have to worry about offending the religious sensibilities of
family members, as only my friends attended, who are all very
artsy and wacky. So our event was probably a lot different than
something you would do with family, but maybe it will give you
(or someone else) some ideas.
We threw a potluck brunch at our house for about 16 of our
friends with the theme of ''Fairy Blessings''. Ahead of time,
each guest was asked to come up with a fairy blessing, as in ''If
you were my child's fairy godparent, what gift would you bestow
to her?'' We also asked that each guest bring a gift that
represents an important thing from their own childhood, such as
a copy of their favorite childhood book, stuffed animal, game,
etc. (I didn't have a traditional baby shower so I thought it
was okay to ask for this kind of gift). Some of our relatives
who were not able to attend sent gifts like this ahead of time.
We also put on the invitation ''fairy godparent attire encouraged
but not required'' and almost everyone showed up in unique, wild
costumes (wiseman, magician, angel, butterfly, eagle,
and ''fairy gothmother'', to name just a few), which instantly
made the event very fun and kooky.
For the ceremony itself, we had everyone sit in a circle around
a table set with candles and candleholders I had made of clay,
carved with my daughter's name and birthdate. One of our close
friends (who also performed our wedding), led the ceremony by
lighting a candle, and reading ''On Children'' from Gibran. We
then had each guest bestow their blessing, give their gift, and
light a candle. My husband and I presented the gifts that
relatives had sent along. This was all very informal, fun and
Then we had a short naming cermony, where my husband and I
talked about why we chose her name and the significance it has
to us. The officiator then gave a short ceremonial speech to
formally bestow her name and kissed her on the forehead to end
the ceremony. We finished with cake and cocktails. Everyone
got to take a candleholder home with them. For us it was the
perfect way to welcome my daughter into the world surrounded by
loving friends and protectors.
We compromised in that we also had a Christian baptism for our daughter
for the sake of my parents (kinda weird, but I don't regret it), but we
focused our energy welcoming our little one into our world by having a
blessing ceremony that we created and held about 3 months after her
birth. We hired a ritualist (she had also married us) who said some lovely
things about our daughter, babies, people, life, family, community, etc. and
then--my favorite part--we passed her special baby cup around our circle
of family and friends and each one said something to her while they held
the cup. By the end her cup was overflowing with good wishes and
welcoming, and the feeling of inclusion remains to this day. It was quite
moving. To me, it ''did the job'' of a baptism without being ''religious'' --
this group, in some form, will be there for our child as she grows. If you
decide to create a ceremony of your own, search the web for ideas on
blessings and rituals to welcome babies...
Mama who feels blessed
We are both Jewish, although not religious, and if we had
had a boy we would have had a bris (circumcision
ceremony). We didn't want to let our daughter's birth go
uncelebrated so instead we had a ''naming ceremony.'' We
invited friends and family, said some blessings, had the two
grandma's describe the two people she was named after,
and planted a tree. We are planning on doing something
similar for our second daughter, due in August. One nice
thing about this kind of celebration is that there are no real
rules about when to have it or how it has to be, so you are
free to have it just how you want it.
We too are not a religious couple and wanted to have a blessing
for our son. I come from a Catholic upbringing and my husband
was raised Protestant. My side of the family has ALL Christened
their children (12 of them!) but I do not consider myself
Catholic and thought it would be hypocritical to Christen my son
because of that. Long story short: we hired a Unitarian
minister (found her by calling around to Unitarian churches and
describing our desire), found a lovely outdoor spot in the
Oakland Hills, and had a blessing/welcoming celebration there.
It was really nice. One of my sisters and her husband acted as
''godparents'' and read a couple of readings we had selected and
the minister introduced the baby with a really nice welcome and
blessed him. We then had a bbq at our house. Many family
members and friends came and it was quite a memorable day. I
cherish the memory and am so happy to have done some kind of
formal (yet still somehow informal) blessing.
Spiritual but not Religious Mama
I've been to several naming ceremonies officiated by unitarian
ministers that were wonderful. it's a nice rite of passage and
a welcoming of the baby by its family/community, but doesn't
have a religious overlay unless you want it to. You might
contact your local unitarian church--they are always willing to
talk to people about these kinds of things.
We had a ''family blessing'' ceremony just two weeks ago to
welcome our 4month old daughter. Extended family and friends
stood in a circle around us as my husband and I reaffirmed our
committment to each other and to our child. We told the story
of her name to those gathered, and then planted a tree in her
honor. Then the circle was joined by yarn which was threaded
through a picture of the three of us, as the yarn was cut, each
person had a picture and symbol of their connection to our new
family. It was beautiful and soulful, and our witnesses shared
with us how meaningful it was for them too. I hope this
helps...be creative! Good luck!
That's wonderful that you wish to celebrate the arrival of your
new baby! In the Chinese culture, it is common to have a red egg
and ginger party to celebrate a baby's one month birthday. It is
a typical Chinese banquet where friends and family are invited,
gifts of money and jewelry are given to the baby, and you eat
traditional foods which symbolize health and longevity. The one
month birthday is significant, due to high infant mortality
rates in China back in the day (they figured if a baby made it
to its one month birthday, chances are it would be OK).
Historically, it was only held for boys, although most parents
throw red egg and ginger parties for both boys and girls these
days. I'm Chinese but my husband is not, so we had to do a lot
of explaining to his parents as to what it actually was. They
kept calling it a naming ceremony (which it is not--there's no
ceremony involved, it's just a celebration) because we also
happened to mention that the baby usually isn't even formally
named until the party (again, because of the infant mortality
You can find more info online if you just do a quick search
for ''red egg and ginger party''. Many Chinese restaurants in
Oakland Chinatown will cater these parties--just call and
inquire about their menus and prices. Good luck!
My husband and I are both atheists but we still believe very
strongly in rites of passage. Therefore we decided to have a
welcome ceremony for our baby. We planned it for about a month
after she was supposed to be born, but she came early so she was
about 2 months old. That worked fine, though she still slept
through most of it :)
What we did was ask our friends to bring some words and possibly
an object with some significance to the ceremony. We started by
having my husband and I say some words welcoming our daughter and
by giving her our ''gifts'', then each one of our guests did the
same. Some read poems, some had words and some had nothing, but
it was all very touching. We put all the gifts and cards with
the words in a coffer for her to open when she's older.
AFterwards we had food and a cake. Everyone told me they thought
it was a very good ceremony and I felt very good about it.
We are a lesbian couple with a 9 month old daughter looking for someone to
perform a non-denominational baby blessing. Any leads would be most
Ann Keeler Evans performed our non-denomonational wedding and also does
other rituals including baby ceremonies. Our wedding ceremony was great
and meaningful and is the standard by which I measure all other
weddings. You can visit her website to learn more and find contact
Sondra Hall has a practice called Threshold and is a lovely woman. I have
heard that she helps you do a very special ceremony for a variety of life
510-658-2192 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You pretty much can't go wrong with the Unitarians, either
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (Cedar & Bonita)
or First Unitarian Church of Berkeley (in Kensington), or
another Unitarian Church near where you live.
see also: recommendations for Unitarian Churches
There is a church called New Spirit in Berkeley that
is a wonderful, inclusive congregation. Started just last summer but with a
pretty big group already. The pastor is Karen Foster. If she does not do
blessing herself, she may have a referral. She is very welcoming,
particularly of diverse families.
I spoke to Reverend Shirlee Bromley of Mira Vista UCC (an open an affirming congregation) and she would be happy to perform a non-denominational baby blessing for you and your daughter. She's away this week and will be back on Tuesday, February 20. Phone 510-234-0110
For the couple looking for someone to do a non-denominational baby blessing, you could contact Elizabeth Chiment chiment[AT]gurlmail.com. She is a friend of mine and is in divinity school, she has performed weddings and would be great to work with.
this page was last updated: Feb 25, 2011
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