Death Cafes: Connecticut Humanists Invite Grim Reaper to Dinner

Death Cafes: Connecticut Humanists Invite Grim Reaper to Dinner

This post, written by Anita Peters, originally appeared on TheHumanist.com. So many of us are “dying” to talk about death but don’t know how, when, or with whom to begin the conversation. “Thinking about death is really about thinking about our lives and the lives of those whom we care about,” I told Dan Blinn (a fellow humanist celebrant in Hartford, Connecticut) and Chris Stedman (Yale’s humanist chaplain). We decided to start a series of so-called Death Cafes and invited humanists and the public to participate. At a Death Cafe, people come together, usually strangers, to share food and drink and to discuss their feelings and ideas about death. This is not a bereavement session. It’s an opportunity for communities to explore and reflect on life in the face of human mortality, to, as Blinn adds, “make people more aware about death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives.” We are participating in the Death Cafe movement, a life-affirming international social franchise started five years ago by Jon Underwood in London and later popularized by Lizzy Miles in the United States. Underwood developed the Death Cafe model based on the ideas of the Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz who, together with his anthropologist wife, studied funeral rites in their town and other cultures. When Crettaz’s wife died in 1999, he initiated meetings in local bistros to talk about death. From these first informal meetings, the Death Cafe model was born. Participants are seated at tables of six to ten participants, presided over by the organizer or a facilitator selected by the organizer. Refreshments are an...
A Reason Rally Wedding: Our Humanist Love Story

A Reason Rally Wedding: Our Humanist Love Story

This post, written by Anita Macauley and Gregg Casagrande, originally appeared on TheHumanist.com. Above, the couple with humanist celebrant David Williamson during their wedding at the 2016 Reason Rally. Secular and humanist groups mean a great deal to people, often being the one sure place where a person can connect with others who will be accepting and open to one’s views. Our story is no different. I, Anita Macauley, and my now husband, Gregg Casagrande, were searching for a community where we could make personal connections, engage in stimulating conversations, and find others with a worldview that matched our own. I was working in a very conservative, primarily Christian environment, where not too long ago there were before-work prayer meetings held weekly on our campus. Symbolism and talk of Christian ideals were ever-present. Gregg was coming out of a conservative, Catholic upbringing and lifestyle. He was once a Promise Keeper and attended Catholic educational institutions his whole life. The need for fellowship with other atheists and freethinkers was strong in both of us. Fortunately, we both found the Suncoast Skeptics, a freethought Meetup group in our area. We were fellow group members and friends for over a year. As we grew to know each other’s minds and hearts better, our relationship became closer and took a romantic turn. Having this friendship grow into something more within the close-knit and supportive community of our group has only reinforced the importance of these bonds. Our interest in providing community for fellow atheists and humanists has led us to work in leadership roles of our own group, Sarasota Manatee Atheists and Secular...
On-Site Training for Celebrants: New Jersey

On-Site Training for Celebrants: New Jersey

The Humanist Institute is offering on-site training for individuals who are already Celebrants or desiring to become Humanist Celebrants. Saturday, March 12, 2016 Rutgers University Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center, 85 Somerset Street New Brunswick, NJ 08901 United States 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Register Online Today! Learn how to prepare unique and inspiring humanist wedding ceremonies Find out how to care for individuals nearing the end of life and support their families during this time Discover what makes a humanist memorial service so different Gain an understanding of how humanists celebrate life events and milestones Learn how to get in the queue for giving local meeting invocations, and some examples of appropriate versus inappropriate things to say when invited to do so Acquire knowledge on what the Humanist Society has to offer Schedule 10:00 to 10:30 am:  Welcome & Introductions 10:30 to 12:00 pm:  Weddings 12:00 to 1:00 pm:  Lunch (Provided) & Discussion “What are the types of Humanist Leadership?” 1:00 to 2:30 pm:  End of Life Preparation & Memorials 2:30 to 3:00 pm: Invocations 3:00 to 3:30 pm: Baby Welcomings 3:30 to 4:00 pm:  Coming of Age Celebrations*All participants will be provided with supporting materials to begin (or add to) their personal library of resources i.e. sample ceremonies, suggested readings, creative ideas. Endorsed celebrants will be added to a local database.  Join us for a dynamic day of learning Be a part of enriching your community Expand your network of fellow celebrants Gain new ideas for celebrating life’s events Lodging Option #1 A very nice hotel that is close to the Rutgers Campus: The Heldrich Hotel 10 Livingston...
Celebrating the Celebrants: An Interview with Humanist Officiants Jennifer and Tim Bailey

Celebrating the Celebrants: An Interview with Humanist Officiants Jennifer and Tim Bailey

This post, written by Rachael Berman, originally appeared on TheHumanist.com on May 19, 2015. I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer and Tim Bailey, co-owners of Celebrating Times of Change, at their exhibitor booth at the American Humanist Association’s Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. Their exhibitor table was well decorated and inviting, and it showcased how each ceremony they perform is tailored to the lifestyles, philosophies, and values of the couple, individual, or family. Jennifer and Tim most often perform weddings, funerals, and memorials, however, as they detail below, they’re seeing more and more variety in the events people want to commemorate. In addition to both being graduates of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute and certified Life Cycle Celebrants, Tim is also endorsed as a humanist celebrant by The Humanist Society. TheHumanist.com: How long has Celebrating Times of Change been in existence? How was it formed? Jennifer and Tim Bailey: Celebrating Times of Change has slowly evolved over the last decade. The first seeds were planted in 2001 with the planning of our own unique Renaissance-themed wedding in Tucson, Arizona. We soon realized that this would be part of our partnership and life’s work. In 2003, we relocated to Colorado, where we assisted friends with their weddings and ceremony ideas. Each year, we became increasingly involved in more ceremonies to mark lifecycle events. This increased our desire to become more involved by performing ceremonies. While he was the president of the Humanists of Colorado, Tim realized there was a need among those looking for nonreligious wedding ceremonies. He worked to become a humanist celebrant in 2008, as Jennifer assisted...
Humanist Celebrants Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage

Humanist Celebrants Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage

This post, written by Rachael Berman, originally appeared on TheHumanist.com on July 9, 2015. On June 26, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all fifty states. Some same-sex couples rushed to their local courthouse to become some of the first “legal” married same-sex couples in their states. However, even now, several judges and county clerks from the thirteen states with same-sex marriage bans prior to the June 26 ruling are still refusing to perform officiant duties that would honor same-sex couples’ federal right to marry. Luckily, humanist celebrants continue to be an importance resource for individuals who want a personalized, nonreligious ceremony. I reached out to several humanist celebrants asking them to share stories of same-sex marriage ceremonies they’ve officiated and the obstacles they’ve faced—their accounts are below.   California California first began issuing same-sex marriage licenses in June 2008. However, four months later the passage of Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry, gay marriage licenses were no longer being issued. Humanist celebrant Jason Frye of San Diego managed to sneak one in anyway: In July of 2008, Californians celebrating LGBT-pride had reason to add wedding cake to the usual American summer diet of cold beer and anything grilled outdoors. A month prior, our state Supreme Court ruled that our constitutional ban on marriage eligibility for same-sex couples was constitutionally verboten. The following month was our city’s annual Pride Parade. There was the usual assortment of gay bars, bankers, and incumbents seeking reelection. There was also a humanist celebrant...
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