Dedication of Children

We will dedicate children to this congregation during the Mother’s Day service, May 13th. If you are interested in having your child dedicated, please contact Rev. Lora.

I have this bad habit of channel surfing. I like to think of it as a sort of meditation. I flip through the TV channels one at a time, not really looking for something to watch. Mostly I do this to de-stress or to calm down. Once, several years ago, I was channel surfing and got drawn into an episode of “Army Wives” – not a show I had ever watched. Oddly, I tuned in just as the following scene was unfolding:

A minister in a black robe wearing a colorful stole gently extends a pink rose toward a baby held in her mother’s arms. To the baby, the parents, the godparents, and the congregation, he says: “I touch your feet that you might stand against injustice. I touch your hands that you might reach for and grasp a great wisdom. I touch your ears that you might hear music in the sacred silence. I touch your eyes that you might see beauty in every living thing. I touch your lips that you might speak the truth. And finally, I touch your heart that you might know love and give love abundantly, openly, and courageously.” (From Michelle Bates Deakin article in the UU World August 10, 2009).

I sat in stunned silence that a mainstream TV show was depicting my religion! My religion that doesn’t baptize but dedicates children to the care of the church community instead. My religion that stands in stark contrast to a majority view that we are born inherently sinful. I don’t remember all the details of the episode that I had accidentally bumped into with my channel surfing, so I’m grateful for the details found in Michelle Bates Deakin’s article.

Two episodes of “Army Wives” were filmed in the Charleston UU church. The writer of the episode thought Unitarian Universalism was a good fit for the show after learning about UUism when her mother joined a church in Washington state. In the first episode, her fictional minister explained that the focus in their church was on "community over theology." The mother of the child being dedicated was about to be deployed to Iraq and she started looking for a more inclusive experience after a meeting with a Christian pastor who questioned her about her “relationship with the Lord.”

Over the years I have created a child dedication ritual based on words my colleagues have shared with me and based on the input I have received from families wanting to dedicate their children to a church whose focus is on “community over theology.” As Unitarian Universalists, we do not baptize or christen. We believe every child is born perfect and sinless and that they are a life-long recipient of the unconditional love of the universe, regardless of whether words are said, or water is sprinkled over their head.

As human beings, we recognize the power of communal ritual and the meaning of universal symbolism, and so, on May 13th, families can bring their children before us – as children have been brought to places of worship throughout the ages – to be named and dedicated in community.

Rusty Nejdl