You created my inmost being and stitched me together in my parent’s womb. For all these mysteries I thank you — for the wonder of myself, for the wonder of your works — my soul knows it well.” – Psalm 139:13-14 (The Inclusive Bible)
MCC recognizes that changing one’s name can be one of the most meaningful steps for a transgender or gender non-conforming person in expressing or validating who they are. In scripture, names have great power; name changes reflect true revelation (for example, Abraham , Sarah, Jacob and Paul).
Our pastoral staff offers a renaming ceremony to mark this important moment, to acknowledge the past and to look forward to the future. We invite the community (as appropriate) to be a part of lifting up and offering support to those who claim a new name.
If we may be a part of your journey, please contact us.
Ritual of Naming & Affirmation of Baptism
Developed by Rev. Sandra Summers
Memorial Congregational Church (UCC), Sudbury, MA
As Church, we gather to mark sacred and holy milestones together in community. Whether it is a baptism or a wedding ceremony, we believe that it is important to honor the journeys we experience together, as God’s gathered people. Today is such a day. Today we celebrate in a ritual of naming and an affirmation of Baptism of N.
Names are an interesting part of what it means to be human. Throughout history cultures have developed different rituals of naming. While we in the states may be most familiar with a line written on a birth certificate by biological parents, the practices worldwide are as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Names are also an interesting part of our story of Christian faith. In making a promise of a new nation God renames Abram to Abraham. In the birth of a new child, God renames Sarai to Sarah. Through a night long wrestling match, God renames Jacob to Israel. After a period of great loss and upheaval, Naomi, which means sweet, changes her own name to Mara, which means bitter. After a life altering experience of the risen Christ, Saul becomes Paul.
Today, we celebrate a new name, a deeper truth, in a journey just beginning.
RITUAL OF NAMING
(Hand paper) N., on this piece of paper is the name given to you at birth. It served you well for many years, and now we recognize a new part of your journey. Take the paper and place it in the water. (Wait for paper to disappear). This paper may dissolve, but our memories of you never will. This water is forever changed. Take out the stone from the water with your chosen name. Now, this stone may appear to be solid and permanent. But we know that rocks change as the water around them changes. The texture, the shape, all change as the flowing waters change.
(Pour old water into jar). The water that surrounds your rock is now changing. We honor this water. We cherish this water.
And now, we honor this new journey.
By what name shall you be known? N.
Beloved Child of God, your name is good. May it reflect your true self, empowering you to live a life of love and justice.
I now ask the family gathered to look at this child of God, and say, Your name is N.
Family: Your name is N.
I invite this gathered Church to look at this child of God, and say, Your name is N.
Your name is N.
Gathered Family and community, Will you do all in your power to walk with N., empowering him/her/them to live a life of love and justice as he/she/they is/are wonderfully and beautifully made? If so, please say, We Will with the help of God.
We will with the help of God.
Laying on hands – N., beloved, beautiful child of God, though your name may be changed, the spirit of the most high God continues dwells within you. Go forward from this day with your new name, and this new covenant with your church family as we affirm that you are beautifully and wonderfully made.
AFFIRMATION OF BAPTISM
(At baptismal font) This water, this water is for your new journey, N. And we need to make sure that all the water that has surrounded you is a part of this ritual. (Pour “old” water in to font. Friends in Christ, we are all received into the church through the sacrament of baptism. N. has found nurture and support in the midst of the family of Christ and has been led by the Holy Spirit to affirm his/her/their baptism and to claim in our presence his covenantal relationship with Christ and the members of the church. He/She/They is/are here for service to Jesus Christ, using the gifts which the Holy Spirit bestows.
N., do you believe in God? If so, please say, I believe in God. I believe in God.
N., do you believe in Jesus Christ? If so, please say, I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in Jesus Christ.
N., do you believe in the Holy Spirit? If so, please say, I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
By your baptism you were made one with us in the body of Christ the church. Today we rejoice in your pilgrimage of faith which has brought you to this time and place – to renew this covenant. We give thanks for every community of faith that has and will be your spiritual home, and we celebrate your presence in this household of faith.
N., Do you promise to participate in the life and mission of this family of God’s people, sharing regularly in the worship of God and enlisting in the work of this local church as it serves this community and the world? If so, please say, I promise with the help of God. I promise with the help of God.
(Using new baptism water) N.- Your baptism is affirmed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God.
WELCOME AND RECEPTION
Let us, the members of Church express our welcome and affirm our mutual ministry in Christ as printed in your bulletin.
We affirm our continued walk with you in the common life of this church. We promise you our renewed friendship and prayers as we share the hopes and labors of the church of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit may we continue to grow together in God’s knowledge and love, and be witnesses of our risen Savior.
Let us pray – Eternal God, we praise you for calling us to be your servant people and for gathering us into the body of Christ. We thank you for sending to us N. that we may work together in serving the needs of others. Confirm in us the power of your covenant that we may live in your Spirit, share regularly in worship, and so love each other that we may have among us the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, to whom all honor and glory. Amen.
Go in peace, sibling in Christ.
United Church of Christ Book of Worship