Lay Chaplains

UCM has an experienced Lay Chaplain who is licensed under the Marriage Act of Ontario, serving the Peel and Halton Regions and surrounding areas. Fees for ceremonies are discussed in advance with the Lay Chaplain. Our Lay Chaplain leads various Rites of Passage for the general public in the area, in many different locations such as private homes, public or home gardens and rented halls. Preparations for services are in consultation with the parties involved. Lay Chaplains craft a custom service for you which is reflective of your personal circumstances and beliefs. Who trains lay chaplains? Unitarian lay chaplains are licensed through the CUC, by their respective provinces, to legally solemnize weddings. The CUC provides the training for new lay chaplains and its Lay Chaplaincy Program Steering Committee oversees the program. There are nearly 90 lay chaplains across Canada (an average of two for every congregation). The program is foremost one of ensuring the “right to a rite” for anyone – Unitarian or not, who wants a religious ceremony including multicultural or mixed faith ceremonies, custom designed for them to mark a significant passage in their individual or family life. What about same-sex weddings? Unitarians have led the way, literally for decades, on same-sex unions and marriages. In 1974, the Rev. Norm Naylor, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Winnipeg, officiated at the first same-sex marriage performed in Canada. In the intervening years, lay chaplains performed hundreds of “services of union” even though they weren’t legally recognized by the provinces. At the national level, the CUC was part of the lobbying effort that led to the legalization of equal marriage in 2005. Today our lay chaplains perform marriages in every part of Canada regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation.

What else do lay chaplains do? Lay chaplains also officiate at child dedications, memorial services, house blessings, coming out celebrations, coming of age rituals, and other milestone ceremonies. In each case, they work with the individuals involved to create a ceremony that is rich in metaphor and meaning, drawing upon the religious or other values of the people who have come to them for support.  Please contact Debbi directly or the UCM office for more information.

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