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Humanist Celebrants in Florida:
Dr. Martha J Hardman
PO Box 12099
Gainesville, FL 32604-0099
378-9827 [email protected]
Edmund W Cannon
295 16th Ave
Vero Beach, FL 32962
William Harold White
338 Okaloosa Rd. NE
Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548
243-5247 or 833-3776
For anyone interested in wedding ceremonies without religion, here’s an article about Humanist Ministers, and how we function as officiants at all kinds of ceremonies, including weddings:
What is a Humanist Celebrant?
A Humanist Celebrant (HC) functions in the same way any member of the traditional clergy, with one exception… we are non-theists, and in our “clerical” work, we do not invoke or refer to any type of religion, god, deity or mystical power. HCs can choose from a list of different titles, such as Counselor (reserved for those who are licensed in psychology or counseling), Minister, Chaplain and Celebrant. The process of certification is overseen by the American Humanist Association.
What Does an HC do?
We do all the usual “ministerial” things… perform wedding ceremonies (yes, they’re legal), conduct memorial services, counsel the sick, dying, or traumatized, and facilitate many other types of ceremonies, such as welcoming a new baby into the family. Many of us conduct less traditional ceremonies as well, and some examples of these include rites of passage such as menopause, divorce or separation rituals, commitment ceremonies for non-traditional families (polyamorous, step-families, same-sex couples, roommates, you name it). Most HCs will “design” a ceremony for any event or personal milestone.
Many of us volunteer to work with the sick and dying, the homeless, abused children, substance abusers and others who might benefit from secular counseling. We are also in the process of organizing ourselves to go into disaster areas — such as the sites of plane crashes, floods and terrorist attacks — to offer support to survivors who find little comfort in the words of the religious ministers who traditionally counsel survivors.
WHAT ARE HUMANIST CEREMONIES LIKE?
They can be anything from a conservative, traditional white wedding (without any reference to god or church, or course), to an imaginative, off-the wall ceremony for something unusual. Speaking for myself (I can’t speak for all HCs), my wedding ceremonies focus on the couple’s choice to share a life together and to function as a couple in their community. It includes the promises or “agreements” they want to make to govern their marriage, and these agreements can be anything the couple chooses. My favorite “vows” include a promise to tell the truth, to allow the other person to grow at his/her own pace, to take risks and communicate no matter how painful the issue is, to support the growth and survival of the marriage without losing sight of one’s own personal growth. When kids are involved, I like to have them make vows as well,.
An example of a more unusual ceremony would be one I did for a man who had very long hair, and when he decided to change his life — quit drinking, start a new relationship, let go of his past anger etc — he decided to cut his hair as a symbol of his “new” self. He had a long braid, which he cut off, and we buried it in his garden so it would decompose, become part of the earth and grow into something new, which is symbolically what the man himself was doing. We planted seeds over it. He invited his friends to witness this process. It was very powerful. Another ritual I heard about involved a mother and son. The son was leaving home to go to college, and the mother felt that she needed help letting go of him. The ritual involved the two of them tying a ribbon around each of their waists, tied together in the middle, symbolic of the “apron strings.” In the ritual, they cut the ribbon, letting each other go. They were surrounded by loved ones, and it was very moving.
Where Can I Find An HC?
We have HCs all over the country. You can call the American Humanist Association at (800) 743-6646 to locate an HC in or near your community.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A HUMANIST
You have to have been a member of AHA for at least one year. You have to be “nominated” by an AHA member in good standing. Part of the application process is to get four letters of recommendation from people, at least three of which have to be AHA members. It’s great if you can be recommended by other HCs. The application form is lengthy, and asks you to answer many questions about your views on Humanism and related issues. It also helps if you can show that you have a very high interest and involvement level in Humanism. The process also involves reading some of the humanist literature and offering your comments on it, to show that you are in basic agreement with the philosophy and its various ramifications. Once the letters of recommendation are received, the approval process doesn’t take long
Written by Terri Mandell