Secular Naming & Blessing Ceremonies

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Officiant for non-religious naming ceremony

July 2005

My husband and I would like to have a non-religious, humanist naming ceremony for our baby but have not been able to find an officiant. Does anyone have any recommendations (preferably in San Francisco)? Many thanks. Nicole

Heron Freed Toor in San Francisco officiated at our wedding five years ago. She was wonderful. I know she does naming ceremonies and other things. She makes every ceremony very personal and you can be as spiritual or non spiritual as you want. worksofheart101[AT] mizlandry

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation does this exact thing. Liz

My mother-in-law serves as a non-denominational officiant for all types of rituals and celebrations, including naming ceremonies and baby blessings. She does a great job of listening and consulting with the family or couple and creates rituals that are totally personal and reflect the tastes and values of her clients. She lives in San Jose but will travel all over the Bay Area. Check out her web site for more information: Christa

I wholeheartedly recommend:
Heron Freed Toor Interfaith Officiant Beautiful Weddings & Other Works of Heart 2285 Bay Street San Francisco 94123 415.563.0498 or 415.307.5664 (cell) Worksofheart101[AT]
she does weddings, house blessings, baby namings, memorials, etc. she is the officiant for our vow renewal ceremony & came very highly rcommended to us, as well. Virginia

We used Hank Basayne for our son's welcoming ceremonies and he was great. He is in the city. These may be old, but here are some numbers: 415-346-7099 415-567-7044 good luck! lucia

We had a wonderful celebrant/officiant for our wedding and for our childrens' blessing ceremonies. She is located in SF but will travel. Her ceremonies are non-denominational and humanist and are written beautifully. Her name is Heron Freed Toor and she can be reached at 415-563-0498 or at worksofheart101[AT] Congratulations on your new bundle! Deirdre

We had a wonderful naming ceremony at Clear Water Zendo with zen priest Mary Mocine officiating. The zendo is around the corner from us in Vallejo, so it was a natural choice. But I'm passing on the idea because Mary made it so memorable and comfortable for our family and attendant friends and relatives. She might be willing to come to you; certainly worth asking. We too wanted a humanist ceremony. We wanted to invoke spirtuality without religious denomination, particularly since I'm Jewish and my husband is Catholic. We also wanted a ceremony that would make my husband's European-born parents feel no loss for the baptism we were not having. It all worked beautifully. Mary solicited our ideas, had some of her own, and happily agreed to incorporate water into the ceremony to comfort my old-world inlaws. There was time for us to speak our own words to our daughter and give her special personal gifts. I heartily recommend Mary Mocine. contact her at 707.649.2480 Barbara

Re: an officiant for your naming ceremony. Try my friend Kimberly Satterfield (Emeryville); she performs marriages & committment ceremonies, etc. as In the Spirit Ministries @ 510- 658-9472 or kashi[AT] I checked with her about your naming ceremony and she was interested. Good luck! Susan

Nicole, in response to your search for an officiant, you should check out I haven't used her, but I have heard great things about her! dagbreji

Creative ideas for 1-year-old's baby blessing

Feb 2005

We are planning a baby blessing for our daughter's one year birthday. I am looking for some poems, readings, or creative ideas for a brief ceremony...especially things that talk about promises from parents/community, blessings for a good life, etc. If anyone has any references, I would greatly appreciate it.

You should look at The Family Medallion Originally, it was started as a ceremony (nondenominational) to be used in a wedding where there were children involved from previous marriages or relationships. It has since been used for a variety of family celebrations, including Baptisms, Adoptions etc. The Family Medallion itself is a metal medallion with three interlocking circles representing a symbol of unity, a tangible sign honoring the significant relationships that bind together family and friends. It is truly unique and beautiful. Amy

Non-religious baby celebrations?

July 2003

My husband and I are expecting are first child this August. Neither one of us is religious, but we are being asked by our families (which are somewhat religious) if there will be a baptism/celebration after our child is born. We don't feel right having a baptism but are there other non-religious events parents can have to celebrate a birth? I would love to hear how other new, non-religious parents have handled this and if they did have something, how they organized/explained it. Thanks. anon

We had a wonderful non-religious ceremony last year when my daughter was about 5 months old. In my case though, we did not have to worry about offending the religious sensibilities of family members, as only my friends attended, who are all very artsy and wacky. So our event was probably a lot different than something you would do with family, but maybe it will give you (or someone else) some ideas.

We threw a potluck brunch at our house for about 16 of our friends with the theme of ''Fairy Blessings''. Ahead of time, each guest was asked to come up with a fairy blessing, as in ''If you were my child's fairy godparent, what gift would you bestow to her?'' We also asked that each guest bring a gift that represents an important thing from their own childhood, such as a copy of their favorite childhood book, stuffed animal, game, etc. (I didn't have a traditional baby shower so I thought it was okay to ask for this kind of gift). Some of our relatives who were not able to attend sent gifts like this ahead of time. We also put on the invitation ''fairy godparent attire encouraged but not required'' and almost everyone showed up in unique, wild costumes (wiseman, magician, angel, butterfly, eagle, and ''fairy gothmother'', to name just a few), which instantly made the event very fun and kooky.

For the ceremony itself, we had everyone sit in a circle around a table set with candles and candleholders I had made of clay, carved with my daughter's name and birthdate. One of our close friends (who also performed our wedding), led the ceremony by lighting a candle, and reading ''On Children'' from Gibran. We then had each guest bestow their blessing, give their gift, and light a candle. My husband and I presented the gifts that relatives had sent along. This was all very informal, fun and uplifting.

Then we had a short naming cermony, where my husband and I talked about why we chose her name and the significance it has to us. The officiator then gave a short ceremonial speech to formally bestow her name and kissed her on the forehead to end the ceremony. We finished with cake and cocktails. Everyone got to take a candleholder home with them. For us it was the perfect way to welcome my daughter into the world surrounded by loving friends and protectors. PJ

We compromised in that we also had a Christian baptism for our daughter for the sake of my parents (kinda weird, but I don't regret it), but we focused our energy welcoming our little one into our world by having a blessing ceremony that we created and held about 3 months after her birth. We hired a ritualist (she had also married us) who said some lovely things about our daughter, babies, people, life, family, community, etc. and then--my favorite part--we passed her special baby cup around our circle of family and friends and each one said something to her while they held the cup. By the end her cup was overflowing with good wishes and welcoming, and the feeling of inclusion remains to this day. It was quite moving. To me, it ''did the job'' of a baptism without being ''religious'' -- this group, in some form, will be there for our child as she grows. If you decide to create a ceremony of your own, search the web for ideas on blessings and rituals to welcome babies... Mama who feels blessed

We are both Jewish, although not religious, and if we had had a boy we would have had a bris (circumcision ceremony). We didn't want to let our daughter's birth go uncelebrated so instead we had a ''naming ceremony.'' We invited friends and family, said some blessings, had the two grandma's describe the two people she was named after, and planted a tree. We are planning on doing something similar for our second daughter, due in August. One nice thing about this kind of celebration is that there are no real rules about when to have it or how it has to be, so you are free to have it just how you want it. Good luck! Frances

We too are not a religious couple and wanted to have a blessing for our son. I come from a Catholic upbringing and my husband was raised Protestant. My side of the family has ALL Christened their children (12 of them!) but I do not consider myself Catholic and thought it would be hypocritical to Christen my son because of that. Long story short: we hired a Unitarian minister (found her by calling around to Unitarian churches and describing our desire), found a lovely outdoor spot in the Oakland Hills, and had a blessing/welcoming celebration there. It was really nice. One of my sisters and her husband acted as ''godparents'' and read a couple of readings we had selected and the minister introduced the baby with a really nice welcome and blessed him. We then had a bbq at our house. Many family members and friends came and it was quite a memorable day. I cherish the memory and am so happy to have done some kind of formal (yet still somehow informal) blessing. Spiritual but not Religious Mama

I've been to several naming ceremonies officiated by unitarian ministers that were wonderful. it's a nice rite of passage and a welcoming of the baby by its family/community, but doesn't have a religious overlay unless you want it to. You might contact your local unitarian church--they are always willing to talk to people about these kinds of things. Good luck anon

We had a ''family blessing'' ceremony just two weeks ago to welcome our 4month old daughter. Extended family and friends stood in a circle around us as my husband and I reaffirmed our committment to each other and to our child. We told the story of her name to those gathered, and then planted a tree in her honor. Then the circle was joined by yarn which was threaded through a picture of the three of us, as the yarn was cut, each person had a picture and symbol of their connection to our new family. It was beautiful and soulful, and our witnesses shared with us how meaningful it was for them too. I hope this creative! Good luck! gail

That's wonderful that you wish to celebrate the arrival of your new baby! In the Chinese culture, it is common to have a red egg and ginger party to celebrate a baby's one month birthday. It is a typical Chinese banquet where friends and family are invited, gifts of money and jewelry are given to the baby, and you eat traditional foods which symbolize health and longevity. The one month birthday is significant, due to high infant mortality rates in China back in the day (they figured if a baby made it to its one month birthday, chances are it would be OK). Historically, it was only held for boys, although most parents throw red egg and ginger parties for both boys and girls these days. I'm Chinese but my husband is not, so we had to do a lot of explaining to his parents as to what it actually was. They kept calling it a naming ceremony (which it is not--there's no ceremony involved, it's just a celebration) because we also happened to mention that the baby usually isn't even formally named until the party (again, because of the infant mortality rates).

You can find more info online if you just do a quick search for ''red egg and ginger party''. Many Chinese restaurants in Oakland Chinatown will cater these parties--just call and inquire about their menus and prices. Good luck! Tonya

My husband and I are both atheists but we still believe very strongly in rites of passage. Therefore we decided to have a welcome ceremony for our baby. We planned it for about a month after she was supposed to be born, but she came early so she was about 2 months old. That worked fine, though she still slept through most of it :)

What we did was ask our friends to bring some words and possibly an object with some significance to the ceremony. We started by having my husband and I say some words welcoming our daughter and by giving her our ''gifts'', then each one of our guests did the same. Some read poems, some had words and some had nothing, but it was all very touching. We put all the gifts and cards with the words in a coffer for her to open when she's older. AFterwards we had food and a cake. Everyone told me they thought it was a very good ceremony and I felt very good about it. anon

Lesbian couple seeking non-denominational baby blessing


We are a lesbian couple with a 9 month old daughter looking for someone to perform a non-denominational baby blessing. Any leads would be most appreciated...thanks. Kim

Ann Keeler Evans performed our non-denomonational wedding and also does other rituals including baby ceremonies. Our wedding ceremony was great and meaningful and is the standard by which I measure all other weddings. You can visit her website to learn more and find contact information: Sherri

Sondra Hall has a practice called Threshold and is a lovely woman. I have heard that she helps you do a very special ceremony for a variety of life transitions. 510-658-2192 or bfaysondy2 [at] Sherry

You pretty much can't go wrong with the Unitarians, either Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (Cedar & Bonita) or First Unitarian Church of Berkeley (in Kensington), or another Unitarian Church near where you live. Dianna

see also: recommendations for Unitarian Churches

There is a church called New Spirit in Berkeley that is a wonderful, inclusive congregation. Started just last summer but with a pretty big group already. The pastor is Karen Foster. If she does not do blessing herself, she may have a referral. She is very welcoming, particularly of diverse families. MBK222

I spoke to Reverend Shirlee Bromley of Mira Vista UCC (an open an affirming congregation) and she would be happy to perform a non-denominational baby blessing for you and your daughter. She's away this week and will be back on Tuesday, February 20. Phone 510-234-0110 . --Bonnie

For the couple looking for someone to do a non-denominational baby blessing, you could contact Elizabeth Chiment chiment[AT] She is a friend of mine and is in divinity school, she has performed weddings and would be great to work with. Alice