Yesterday, we had a bridging ceremony here at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, for all those young people who are finishing up with high school this year. For those of you from UUSG who couldn’t be there (and for those readers who live far away), I thought I’d put the text of the ceremony up on my blog. If you don’t know what a bridging ceremony is, it’s explained below, in the text of the ceremony.
I’ve appended a few comments at the end of the ceremony, as well….
UU Society of Geneva, June 4, 2005, 9:00 a.m.
Each year, a few young people from this church end their time in high school. Usually after they are through with high school, they head off to find a job, to join the military, or to attend college or further education. And most often that means that these young people move out of town, or have busy schedules that donâ€™t permit them to come to church as often.
I believe our young people enrich the life of this church immeasurably. They bring their own perspective to church life, they bring their own talents and enthusiasms. Sometimes, they can help to challenge the assumptions of older generations, and that can inject new energy and life into this church. So when the end of high school requires some young people to move on, itâ€™s a real loss to the congregation.
But itâ€™s also a time of excitement. We are so pleased that these young adults are entering a new phase of life! They may not be around as much as in the past, but we want them to know that we will always be glad to see them here, and that we hope they continue to be a part of this church. We want them to know, too, that we will support them as they make the big transition away from high school and into something new — we will support them in their dreams, and their emerging new lives.
This is our chance to recognize these people in what has become known as a “Bridging Ceremony,” bridging the gap between youth and adulthood. And I’m glad the children are here to see this ceremony this morning — some day you, too, will finish up with high school, and will have your own bridging ceremony, and I want you to look forward to that.
To start the bridging ceremony, Iâ€™d like to ask anyone who, like Lindsay [Bates, senior minister at UUSG] and me, spent part or all of their growing-up years in a Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist church, to join us up here at the pulpit.
Next, Iâ€™d like to ask everyone who is still in high school, and those adults who have served as youth advisors, to come stand up here in front of the pulpit.
Now Iâ€™m going to read the names of those people we know of who will be ending their time in high school and moving on to new things. When I read your name, please join us up here at the pulpit….
[names omitted for privacy]
[minister turns to face those who are bridging]
Welcome to each one of you! We welcome you into the community of adult Unitarian Universalists.
Those of us standing here at the pulpit also grew up as Unitarian Universalists, and we have either stayed, or we have come back. It can be done! We hope you, too, decide to remain a Unitarian Unviersalist. Know that you will be welcomed into other Unitarian Universalist congregations, as many of us were — and if you arenâ€™t welcomed in, you can do what some of us did and demand to be welcomed in!. Know that you will always be welcome here in this church — come back and visit, or best of all remain here as members.
[minister turns to face the rest of the congregation]
And I deliver this charge to all the adults in this church: whenever you meet a young adult who grew up in a Unitarian Universalist church, you have the privilege and the responsibility to welcome them here to this church — just as other Unitarian Universalist congregations will have the privilege (and responsibility) to welcome some of our young people into their congregations.
One last word to you who are bridging this year. As you know, Iâ€™m headed off this year to a new church in New Bedford, Massachusetts. If you ever find yourself in New Bedford, Massachusetts, stop in at the Unitarian Universalist church there, and I can promise you will be welcomed there!
Comments about the ceremony: (1) The bridging ceremony took place as part of the intergenerational flower service. (2) Lindsay and I gave each person bridging a copy of the book, “With Purpose and Principle,” telling them that way they’d have a reference guide whenever anyone asked them, “So you’re a Unitarian Universalist — what does that mean?” (3) After the worship service, someone who is a twenty-something remarked that the comment about demanding to be wlecomed was appreciated — this person’s experience in two UU congregations was that young adults did have to demand to be welcomed, adding, “I haven’t given up yet on UUism, but sometimes it is frustrating.” (4) Our small sanctuary does not allow the elaborate staging of the bridging ceremony at General Assembly, but that didn’t really matter.