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Secular pastors

(66 Posts)
Mishap Tue 31-Jul-12 22:28:37

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that communities need secular pastors who can perform the functions of a local vicar without the religious aspect: marriages, funerals, naming ceremonies etc - and also mark the seasons with Christmas/ midwinter, spring, harvest etc ceremonies. They could also be supportive with people in their homes in the same/similar way as a vicar.

It would be nice if they could be welcomed to share church buildings (as they are often so beautiful) for these ceremonies; it would benefit the buildings as there would be a wider group pf people who had a vested interest in helping to maintain them.

Churchgoers who attend mainly to become part of a caring community (and I know there are many) would no longer need to go through the charade of mumbling their way through the creed when they do not really subscribe to it.

What do others think?

jeni Tue 31-Jul-12 22:36:51

They used to be called 'the local bobby'

vampirequeen Wed 01-Aug-12 14:26:06

I have a friend who is a humanist. I'm not sure of his title but he can officiate at naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals.

wisewoman Wed 01-Aug-12 14:49:59

Have you read "Religion for Atheists" by Alain De Botton. Really good and thought provoking. He believes we need many of the things religion gives us without the doctrines and creeds.

Maniac Wed 01-Aug-12 15:29:36

There is much information about this on the website.
Look under 'Secular ceremonies' 'Humanist funerals' 'Green funerals'
'One Spirit Interfaith Foundation'.
I know a woman in Taunton,Somerset who discusses and arranges bespoke funerals whether you have a faith,walk your own spiritual path or have no religious beliefs.I'm sure some of you will know of others around the country

JO4 Wed 01-Aug-12 16:07:31

Could they not supply their own churches? (that is the polite version of that post)

And Christmas, in itself, can only be Christian.

JO4 Wed 01-Aug-12 16:09:07

And who are you going to thank at your Harvest Festivals? The local farmer I suppose. Or Tesco? hmm

Mishap Wed 01-Aug-12 16:50:13

Yes - the Humanist Assoc do have people who officiate at such ceremonies, but they do their bit for a particular couple/individual and then leave. I was thinking we should have people who were permanently employed within a community to fulfill all these roles regularly, as well as pastoral visiting etc.

The reason I suggested the use of church buildings is that there are so few beautiful buildings where these secular ceremonies can take place - one of the reasons many people get married in church even though they are not Christians is because the alternatives are so naff. Churches used to be social centres where people ate, drank and danced and that could be resurrected.

I also felt that the use of the same building would be a way of building bridges between religious and secular communities - a worthy aim I think.

Amazingly I had spotted that Christmas has its origins in a Christian ceremony! - but it has taken on a different meaning now in most people's minds, which was why I added the midwinter to it. Most people no longer celebrate Christmas as a religious event.

We are so steeped in the idea that a harvest festival involves thanking someone for the food that I can see that you might have a difficulty looking at it in a new way - but there might be other ways of being happy that the harvest is in that do not involve thanking a deity; and that create a ceremony that brings people together to share that happiness. And perhaps involves the collection of food for the less well-off.

Yes - I have read a review of the De Botton book and will seek it out - it sounds very interesting.

Granny23 Wed 01-Aug-12 16:54:00

DD1 (already an assistant Registrar, licensed to conduct Weddings) has now trained and branched out as a free lance civil celebrant - funerals, baby namings, renewal of vows, hand-fastings and the like. She already does most of the civil partnerships locally and is looking forward to 2014 when same sex couples will be able to get married like everyone else.

Lilygran Wed 01-Aug-12 17:25:57

Mishap also mentions the pastoral role undertaken by ministers of religion. In my experience of the CoE, vicars don't ask people what their religious affiliation is if they are in trouble and looking for support. Chaplains in hospitals, prisons, workplaces etc offer immediate service to those of any faith, or none. Having said that, there are lots of charitable and commercial counselling and support agencies covering every sad aspect of life.

Nonu Wed 01-Aug-12 17:28:10

JO4 , YOU are a tinker , S A L ,

Anagram Wed 01-Aug-12 17:32:50

S A L? confused

JO4 Wed 01-Aug-12 17:34:05

I googled it.

You made it up.

Anagram Wed 01-Aug-12 17:34:40

I googled it too....

JO4 Wed 01-Aug-12 17:35:54

Have you looked at the other link I put up on the Boris thread? It's funny.

Nonu Wed 01-Aug-12 17:39:57

Mishap , MOST people no longer celebrate CHristmas as a religious event , WHAT ! ARE YOU FOR REAL , Surely , hopefully you mean many shock

Nonu Wed 01-Aug-12 17:45:08

No TINKER, SUCH A Laugh , I am practising my text speak on u guys so that that I can cofuse DD"S and friends, is it working I ponder , I lay awake all night worrying. {you know thats a big fat lie ] I sleep for England , giggle giggle

Nonu Wed 01-Aug-12 17:53:59

Seriously , I googled , and dropped on a site that did text speak , of course quite a lot is American and also a bit saucy , maybe too much for our English \Rose ears , but on the other hand !!! but I am afraid YOYO , I am a sausage me , think I might have that libation now to celebrate WIGO AND FRANKEL

Granny23 Wed 01-Aug-12 17:59:09

Nonu - I think Mishap is right. I tried to think of anybody of my acquaintance who has a 'religious' Christmas and could not think of anyone. Even my nominally Christian relatives and friends no longer go to Church at Christmas (well maybe for Coffee and Carols a week before) preferring to be at home with family, presents, food and drink. Indeed the Wee Kirk almost next door to us does not open at all on Christmas Eve or Day. They share the Watchnight service with the Big Kirk further up the road in order to keep up the numbers. In this village, with a population of approx 2,500, around 60 people will attend church on Christmas day. I think this is about the norm nowadays?

Anagram Wed 01-Aug-12 18:06:51

Yes, but most of us still know what the meaning of Christmas is, even if we don't go to Church on Christmas Day. Just because commercialism has taken over doesn't mean we've lost sight of the religious aspect. Inviting a secular pastor to celebrate some sort of Winterval festival in the local Church at Christmas is probably asking for trouble, locally!

Nonu Wed 01-Aug-12 18:28:13

Well I"m sorry , we Don"t attend church on a weekly basis , but we do try to get there at Easter and for SURE ON cHRISTMAS MORNING , 8AM MASS , IT does not impinge in any way shape or form for the rest of the day , it"s just want we want to do . However , I certainly wouldn"t impose my views on anyone else . I enjoy a good laugh , sometimes I go OTT, but what the heck , this is not a rehearsal . ENJOY.

Butternut Wed 01-Aug-12 18:44:55

Harvest festival. Today I picked a cucumber, some tomatoes, a white onion (well, lifted), and basil for lunch. I thanked the earth for the nutrients, the rain for watering, and my hard work. Simple. smile
It was a delicious lunch and I thorough enjoyed it.

JessM Wed 01-Aug-12 19:15:48

I think it is an interesting idea Mishap - but might have to start as voluntary thing. I met an ex teacher who was a "celebrant" not a humanist I think. Variant on the theme of public speaking.

JO4 Wed 01-Aug-12 19:36:50

Nonu. grin

PoppaRob Wed 01-Aug-12 23:52:10

Christmas and Easter. Isn't that what CE stands for? smile