Vows for same-sex wedding

Indiana made it more difficult today for ministers performing same sex weddings, but elsewhere across the country  beautiful wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples happen every day. Here are some same sex wedding vows from Revs. Grant and Renate Ann Diversa in San Diego http://www.abeautifulceremony.us/vows_weddingvows.htm. While they are not Unitarian Universalists, we Unitarian Universalists affirm their commitment to marriage equality. Of course, these vows can be altered for straight couples as well.
I, ________, in the name of the spirit of the Divine which resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood, and the love that resides within my heart, take you, ________, to my hand, my heart, and my spirit to be my chosen one. To desire and be desired by you, without sin or shame, for none can exist in the purity of my love for you. I promise to love you wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we will meet, remember, and love again.

________, I stand here, today, in front of our friends and our family, to make these promises to you. I promise to love you passionately in the good times and the bad times. To always put your needs and desires before my own. I promise to respect you and give you the time and attention that you deserve. I promise to keep an open mind and an open heart to the changes life might bring to us. To never tear down your hopes and dreams. I promise to keep our relationship alive and exciting, filled with imagination, joy, and strength. To never have a dull moment. I promise to grow along with you and never keep my secrets and my fears away from you. I promise to be the best friend to you that you have and continue to be to me. I promise to give you all of me and to never hold anything back. These are my promises to you. I am yours completely and forever.

________, on this special day as we become partners in life, before our family, our friends, and each other, I make these commitments of my own free will. I promise to take you in to my heart, as you are, and as you will become. I promise to walk by your side and support your dreams, I will express my thoughts and emotions to you and listen to you in times of joy and in times of sorrow. I promise to be your best friend and companion on the road of life. I will help you fulfill your dreams, and be sensitive to the cares of your heart. I want to spend the rest of my life hearing your thoughts and seeing your dreams come true. I will travel with you through all of life’s journeys. And I, ________, want you, ________, to be my companion throughout our journey of life.

I, ________, take you ________, to be my partner in life, my best friend in life and my one true love. I will cherish our marriage and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you, respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart and my love, from this day forward, as long as we both shall live.

________, today I join my life to yours, not only as your partner, but as your friend, your lover and your confidant. Let me be the shoulder that you lean on, the rock upon which you rest, the companion of your life. With you I will walk my path from this day forward.

________, today I commit to our life partnership. I promise to comfort you, to encourage you in all walks of life. I promise to express my thoughts and emotions to you and to listen to you in times of joy and in times of sorrow. ________, I love you, and you are my closest friend. Will you let me share my life and all that I am with you? (I will.)

I come here today, ________, to join my life to yours before this company. In their presence I pledge to be true to you, to respect you, and to grow with you through the years. Time may pass, fortune may smile, trials may come; no matter what we may encounter together, I vow here that this love will be my only love. I will make my home in your heart, from this day forward.

As freely as God has given me life, I join my life to yours. Wherever you go, I will go. Whatever you face, I will face. In good or ill, in happiness or sadness, come riches or poverty, I take you as my partner for life, and I will give myself to no other.

From “Union” by Rev. Robert Fulghum

Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Robert Fulghum writes a chapter entitled “Union” in his book From Beginning to End.

Here is an excerpt from that chapter:
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

Weddings Where You Tell the Truth About Marriage

How many times have you attended a cookie-cutter wedding? Have you ever left feeling like it wouldn’t have mattered who was getting married? Can you recite the platitudes about marriage you hear at such weddings? Here at LifeBlessings.net, we believe there is another way. One of our officiants recently led a marriage ceremony for a young couple with a complicated family situation. There were multiple parental divorces among both the lesbian and straight parents, and one parental death. The families ranged from Jewish to Evangelical Christian to Atheist. At the end of the wedding, all the parents approached our officiant with delighted surprise that it had been a lovely ceremony. Thinking it over later, we realized what distinguished the ceremony was that she had spoken the truth about marriage during the ceremony, both the hard parts and the good parts. She had woven in all of their families’ religious traditions into the ritual. She had spoken to the actual strengths and weaknesses of the couple. She challenged the community to support them for long haul. Unitarian Universalists are uniquely positioned to help you create authentic and meaningful personal rituals.

Memorials as a Celebration of Life

When my great aunt died, her memorial service was officiated by someone no one in my family knew. He did not meet with us. He did not respond to my request for a conversation as a colleague in the ministry. So it was no great surprise when the service did not speak to her life or her relationships. He used the occasion to proselytize his Christianity in a way that might have made some of his colleagues proud. It made most of my family extremely uncomfortable. My brother considered feigning a bloody nose to be able to leave the room. I sat and stewed in my rage. This was my beloved great aunt who had been a central elder in my childhood and my constant conversation partner in college. She was an artist, an educator, and a devoted Christian. She had lived a life that would have been easy to celebrate in her passing, had the minister taken time to learn more about her. We didn’t need to have his Christianity shoved down our throats in our time of grief. We needed to mark the passing of a dearly beloved member of our family, to remember her life and all that she stood for, to grieve and to be together. I am grateful to be part of the Unitarian Universalist ministry because my colleagues are people who can honor the plurality of religious expression in which many families live. They can listen to the real stories of people’s lives and speak the truth of the complexity of a life during a memorial service.

Coming Out as a Person of Faith by Rev. Amy Beltaine

Last weekend I was on Oregon’s coast, hosting the exhibit of “Coming Out as a Person of Faith.” This weekend I officiated a wedding in the hills below Mount Hood. At both of these events the petition for the Freedom to Marry in Oregon was being circulated. At both of these events I spoke on the meaning of marriage:  Marriage creates a family, it means commitment, it means a deep and abiding love. All loving couples who want to make a commitment to each other should have the freedom to marry. For every couple, this commitment creates a shared life that benefits and blesses families, neighborhoods, and our whole interconnected world.

As a community minister my social justice work often crosses over into my other ministries, but it isn’t every day that I can use the same words at both events!

The petition campaign to give all loving and committed couples the freedom to marry is going well and I have every expectation that a law creating marriage freedom will get onto the ballot, and pass next November. This will make Oregon the first state to successfully undo the “between a man and a woman” clause that was added to the constitution. Though we were a little disappointed Oregon wasn’t at the front of the race for justice, we will be the first state to correct a constitutional amendment. I hope we will provide a road-map to other states where the constitution needs to be corrected.

For many people the question of allowing all couples equal access to civil marriage is a non-issue. Several years back I remember one member of my congregation expressing complete shock. She was floored that my marriage was not legally recognized, Incredulous that the issue had not been handled years ago. But for others religion remains a barrier.

It is one of my greatest honors to be witness to the shift people experience when they view the Coming Out as a Person of Faith exhibit, or engage in an open-hearted, faith-based conversation with me.

The exhibit shares the stories of several people of faith: leaders in the community, gay, lesbian, and trans couples, parents of gay or lesbian sons or daughters… Visitors to the exhibit see photos, read the stories, and hear the participants speak. Then, we sit down together to talk. The reconciling goes both ways. Individuals who have felt rejected from their faith see open hearts and arms and can contemplate rejoining communities of depth and meaning. Individuals who felt constrained by their faith are released from a prison of their past and become free to love, without having to give up their faith.

I look forward to a time when religion is not a barrier, but a way for people to connect and create more love. Where all couples have the freedom to marry and we can move on to taking down the next barriers to justice as we work to make the world a better place.




Great Tips for Meaningful Ceremonies

Many wonderful resources abound for planning weddings and other ceremonies. We encourage you to make use of your local public library as well as what is available on the internet. Here’s a few tips from us:

Create a connection – Interview enough ministers, usually 2-3, so that you feel really good about your connection with the one you choose. At your meetings be open and honest. The minister will need to know you in order to make a personalized ceremony.

Be true to yourselves – In writing vows for a wedding or other elements of a different kind of ceremony make sure they reflect who you are and what is important to you. Be genuine. Your ceremony can reflect your style and your values.
Bring in your cultures, your religious backgrounds, your families and communities – You can incorporate your cultural and religious backgrounds and family and community ties through poetry, photographs, music, objects on the altar, or special elements in the ceremony. Your minister can help you with specific ideas for this.

Plan ahead – Don’t leave the ceremony for the last minute. While the details of weddings, even memorials can be overwhelming, remember to contact an officiant early with enough time to plan a meaningful ceremony. If you are writing your own vows, start on them well ahead of time, perhaps with a weekend retreat with your future spouse.

Not too short or too long – A ceremony shorter than twenty minutes will not feel like anything significant occurred. A ceremony longer than an hour may leave participants fidgety and glancing at the clock. Aim for something in the middle.

Be respectful – Your officiant is an ordained, seminary educated, experienced professional. If you keep your appointments, interact courteously, and fulfill your commitments, you will receive the best from your minister and the services they provide.
Relax and enjoy! – No matter what happens on the day of your ceremony, it will become part of the story. You and your family and friends will cherish the memory.

For those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious–why have a minister help you create a meaningful wedding?

For many people a wedding is a time of weaving together a community of love and support around a couple who are publicly professing their love and intentions to make one of the most challenging commitments for two human beings: to live a life together come what may. Often when people say that a wedding is not religious they mean that they don’t what the wedding to be about Jesus or traditional notions of God or to contain any traditional churchy images or symbols. But in our view, a wedding, if done well, is a transformative ritual. The couple, having been witnessed by their community in stating their promises to one another in the presence of the sacred, leaves the wedding changed. If this ceremonial element really isn’t important to you, you always have the option of having a justice of the peace do the official legal part of the marriage and then gather with friends and loved ones more informally to celebrate. On the other hand, if you want to create a ceremony with a minister — in this case not someone you have known for many years, but someone who has experience creating meaningful rituals and officiating at weddings — then we think it is worthwhile to give the process some time and attention. Thoughtful religious leaders can help you with this. Many can give you a process to follow to write your own vows, which we highly recommend. With our help, you can create a deeply meaningful, spiritual wedding using the images, symbols, and language that speaks to you and your families and communities.