Only weddings require a legally accredited Humanist celebrant. Accredited celebrants are registered, and usually offer their services for other ceremonies.
Rites of Passage have always been celebrated in significant ways in most societies. Those of us for whom the churches have no meaning, and the Registry Offices no warmth, must create our own ceremonies to fulfil that human need to be uplifted by being part of a truly meaningful ritual. It was for this that the New Zealand Humanist Society, along with the Rationalist Association, in the 1970s finally persuaded our Government to pass the Amendment to the Marriage Act allowing the appointment of secular marriage celebrants.
Humanist Wedding Ceremonies are entirely secular, but most definitely ethically based. Humanist Celebrants work as honestly as possible with the couple to construct a ceremony unique to their personal and family needs – a very special occasion. Moments of quiet reflection can be included to accommodate religious relatives. The aim – a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with the focus on the couple as individuals (often their children, too); their partnership, the lifelong commitment they are making to each other, and the importance of their legal oaths.
Funerals, like all ceremonies apart from weddings, have no legal implication.
They can be organised and led by whoever is chosen for the task.
Frequently grieving relatives are left uncomforted by funerals in churches that held no meaning for the dear departed – nor, often, for most of the relatives, either.
The same can apply to a Christian ceremony in a crematorium, where the main focus is still usually and not surprisingly on the of the death of Christ.
Nowadays, such religious services offer some opportunity for contributions from old friends, then the focus moves quickly back to the formally religious content.
Mourners are often not familiar with the hymns; ‘Amazing Grace’ is brought in yet again causing sensitive mourners to cringe!
There are better ways of celebrating a life that was a rich tapestry, as is every human life!
Bringing together and sharing that life’s many aspects – the loves, friendships, qualities, achievements, peculiarities, humour and fun times, etc, etc, – all help the mourners to share their sadness in their loss, but be proud of what they have shared with the loved one who’s being farewelled.
Naming and Welcoming Ceremonies for a new family member, can be heart-warming gatherings. Parents often unearth wonderful readings – from Winnie the Pooh to Gibran, and modern, practical down-to-earth advice as well.
Renewal of Vows. Again, these can be very life affirming occasions, as private or as grand an occasion as the couple wishes.
Other possible ceremonies can be finalising a marriage break-up, while celebrating its positive aspects; adoptions; coming of age; etc. etc.
Winter and Summer Solstices are often celebrated by Humanists as linking us all to the natural world which nurtures us and we must nurture in our turn.
Humanist Celebrants offer their experience in compiling a variety of ceremonies, based on their commitment to celebrating the value and potential of all human lives, without reference to any supernatural beings.
The following celebrants offer non-religious, secular marriage ceremonies.
- Pamela Sikkema – Auckland
- Peter Clemerson – Wellington
- Simon Clark – Hamilton
- John Ryan McLane – Wellington/National
There is also a list of humanist celebrants on the NZARH website.