When we left DC, we left behind the best church I have ever been a part of. I started attending All Souls Unitarian Church when I was 18. In college I used to trek over to Columbia Heights on public transportation on most Sundays. It took over an hour, but it was always worth it. When I returned to the city after Peace Corps we looked for an apartment in that neighborhood so we could walk to church. Adam and I became official members together in 2008. We attended that vibrant “ diverse, spirit growing, justice-seeking” community until we moved at the end of 2010.
All Souls is the part of DC that I miss the most. It has been almost 5 years and I still think of it, long for it and miss it most Sundays. I mourn the loss of that community for our children and ourselves. We have made several attempts to get into the local Unitarian church in Chapel Hill, but it has never come close to the experience we had in DC.
Because we are not members of a church in North Carolina we had to take the issue of Calvin’s baptism (or dedication as Unitarians call it) into our own hands. Fortunately, we could still have a very Unitarian ceremony of our own making. Which is exactly what we did in our backyard a few weeks ago.
Here is the script we used. Calvin’s Opa and Oma flew in from Colorado to officiate, and our community and closest friends gathered to witness.
Dedication of Calvin Henry Good
Opa: We gather today to give our welcome, thanks, and support in an act of dedication of Calvin Henry Good. We welcome this child with joy and wonder at the miracle of life, and embrace him as a member of the community of humankind by formally giving him his name. We humbly thank the Spirit of Life, which brought him forth and bestowed him upon his family and the world for a blessing. And we pledge our support to his parents, brother, godparents, grandparents, family, and friends, recognizing that we all have the power and responsibility to shape his world.
Opa: Adam and Kat, what do you name this child?
Adam and Kat: Calvin Henry Good
Opa: Calvin Henry Good, your name is one that your parents chose because of its lovely sound and meaning. Although Calvin from the Latin and French technically means “bald,” we choose to interpret that as open and uncovered to the best parts of the world. Let nothing come between you and this great adventure we call life. (KAL/CAL) originated from the Sumerian language from ancient Mesopotamia and means “highly esteemed or valued” or “precious” and (VIN) or (YEN) originates from the Dravidian Ugor-Finn language from the same period and means “sky, high, chief god. ” You are our “precious sky” cherished and full of possibility.
We hope you embrace the world with wonder, curiosity and the mischievous spirit of your most well-known namesake: Calvin and Hobbes. Your name Calvin Henry Good has also been in your family in some form for some time. Your great-grandfather was called Henry and you were named for him. You will carry his name into the future. Your last name is Good in all sense of the word. All of these names connect you to your family and the past, the roots that will hold you close. And from now and into the future, the names will become what you make of them. May your life make them a blessing to the world.
Charge to the Parents
Opa: Adam and Kat, Calvin, is not only your son, but also the child of Life itself. To you is entrusted the sacred joy and privilege of guiding his life in all its possibilities and teaching him to recognize his own path, hoping that he will find his own truth and live his life according to his ideals.
Do you, then, promise to the best of your ability, by your example, your teaching and your affection, to raise Calvin in the ways of truth, beauty and love?
Parents: We do.
Opa: What godparents have you chosen to support you and Calvin as he grows?
Parents: Daniel, Brenda and Maggie
Charge to the Godparents
Opa: Daniel, Brenda and Maggie, you have the solemn and happy duty to be Calvin’s godparents. He is very lucky to have you to learn from, and celebrate with, and trust. Do you promise to give him and his parents your love and support, nurturing him in freedom, and teaching him by your example to live a good and happy life?
God-Parents: We do.
Opa: Now Calvin’s Parens and Brother will bless him.
(Adam touching a bit of earth to C’s feet)
Kat: With earth, which is solid, we bless you. This earth is your home. May it symbolize your growing strength and stability, affirming your roots, grounding you in the realities of life. Embrace life and live fully.
(Ellis fanning Calvin gently with a feather)
Adam: With air, which is free, fresh, and renewing, we bless you. May you always feel free and adventurous, and go wherever your heart desires. May your imagination be wild and new.
(Adam holding up a candle)
Kat: With fire, which is as bright and illuminating as your mind, we bless you. Think with great care, and learn to trust your mind as a tool to guide you in wisdom, courage, honesty and compassion. Balance your mind with the warmth of your heart and the intuition of your spirit. Like this flame we acknowledge the spark of the divine that resides within you.
(Kat touching water to his heart with the rosebud)
Adam: With water, which is as clear as your spirit, we bless you. May you always see clearly and be able to hear the still small voice inside. May you always be able to trust your feelings, and enjoy growth and change.
Kat: And finally Calvin, we bless you with this flower. May your life unfold in beauty like the rose. We are very happy to welcome you to the world!
Charge to the Community
Oma: No child grows up outside the influence of his community, and no parent raises a child alone. If our hopes for Calvin are to blossom, we must water them with love and commitment, creating the community for him that we wish to see flourish in his time.
Do you promise to freely and wisely love this child, to offer him your steady presence and best selves, to nurture and sustain him and his family as they learn and grow and change together? If so then say “We Do”
Everyone: We do.
Oma: Now please join me in concluding this ceremony with a responsive reading. I will read the plain text and everyone can read the bold text together.
It is our belief that children are not born in original sin, but rather in original blessedness.
By this service of dedication, we commit ourselves to the nurture of this child
Are you ready to dedicate yourselves to Calvin?
We are prepared. We dedicate our minds and hearts to this child and to his parents.
Will you strive to love and cherish them in times of struggle as well as gladness?
We will love and cherish them always.
We acknowledge the divine spark within each child.
May we be worthy guardians of this young life. May we build a community in which he will grow old surrounded by beauty, embraced by love and cradled in the arms of peace.