Questions and Answers
We are frequently, incorrectly, referred to as Humanist Ministers, or Registrars - we’re also often asked which church or religion we are. To give you some background about us and the training we underwent and which organisations we’re associated with we include a series of questions and answers below.
Q Can You Legally Perform Ceremony?
Yes! Marriage is the only ceremony that includes a legal element and in Scotland through our affiliation with One Spirit Interfaith Foundation (OSIF) we’re able to hold a legal ceremony of marriage for both opposite and same sex couples as part of a spiritual, or religious, or humanist/non-religious ceremony. The legal aspect is very simple – you each say you’ll take each other as husband / wife / spouse, we pronounce you husband / wife / married, and we sign the paperwork along with your two witnesses.
Q Which Church Or Religion Are You Associated With?
We’ve been trained and ordained by the education part of OSIF, The Interfaith Seminary (IFS) as non-denominational ministers in service of people from all faiths and none. We’re not associated with any church and don’t usually represent any single religious tradition.
As Interfaith Ministers we operate independently of any church and don’t have assigned parishes or posts – the whole world is potentially our parish and we are The People’s Ministers!
Q What Training Do You Have?
We trained for two years with IFS - Angie was ordained in 2004, Jane in 2011.
As Interfaith Ministers any services we offer are always "in addition to” those being offered elsewhere. We feel great reverence and respect for the original intentions, teachings and principles at the heart of each religious and spiritual tradition having spent the first year of the training exploring the essence of many of the major paths. Alongside these explorations we undertook some deep questioning around our own faith, beliefs, definitions and ethics.
In the second year of our training we concentrated on writing and officiating ceremonies, in parallel with spiritual counselling, a simple counselling model based on loving compassion. When we explored marriage, we explored relationship counselling, when we explored funerals, we explored bereavement counselling, and so on.
Our training was challenging, powerful and creative and we feel it has given us a good grounding to be able to sit down with people wherever they’re at. Maybe they want ceremony, or maybe they feel challenged by their life and the world we live in and need a compassionate listening ear.
Q Who Did You Train With?
We trained with The Interfaith Seminary which was founded in London by Reverend Miranda Holden in 1996 (it was known as The New Seminary at that time). This was an independent sister program to The New Seminary in New York where Miranda trained and was ordained.
The New Seminary New York was founded by Rabbi Joseph Gelberman in 1981 with the support of religious leaders Swami Satchidananda, Reverend Jon Mundy (a Methodist Minister) and Father Giles Spoonhour (a Catholic Priest). Should you be interested you can look up www.newseminary.org
IFS retains links to The New Seminary and has close affiliation to One Spirit Interfaith, a sister seminary, again in New York, founded by Reverend Diane Burke in 2002. The New Seminary UK training programme evolved over the years to suit UK culture and needs, and in 2002 was renamed The Interfaith Seminary to reflect the changes – in 2002 it also became a registered charity.
In 2006 Miranda stepped down as Spiritual Director of IFS. She continues to support IFS as both the Founder and as an Elder – the evolution of her work has led her to base herself in the US. For more information about Miranda and her work her website is www.awakeningwithmiranda.com
IFS is now included along with the professional body of ministers as part of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation.
Q What Does The Term Interfaith Mean?
The term Interfaith most commonly conjures up images of dialogue and or worship between people of different faiths and traditions. If to be Interfaith in this context means to be tolerant, accepting, open and understanding of those of different faiths to ourselves, it’s fitting for us to use the term.
We aspire to have some basic knowledge of different faiths which would help us to respond to a person in need from any faith or with no clear faith or to have an idea of where to start should a couple who wish to marry come from different religious traditions. We in no way profess to be experts on religion.
Many people who come to us consider themselves non-religious or in need of secular ceremony - we're often asked to hold humanist ceremonies. Couples perhaps want to talk about their own personal and individual spiritual paths which are unique to them and can’t be defined or labelled. In the recent past many people have wanted ceremony or ritual to honour their spirituality and special occasion but have had to have a religious ceremony which didn’t fit and felt hypocritical, or a humanist or Civil ceremony which had no spiritual element – times have changed and every couple who wishes to marry can have only and exactly the ceremony of their choosing - according to their faith and choice, not ours!
We respond to those who regard themselves as spiritual but who don’t regularly take part in traditional religion – this could be those grappling with issues their faith may not encompass (ie mixed faith marriages, divorce, a person’s sexual orientation), those seeking spirituality not necessarily religion or those whose spiritual belief can’t be encompassed entirely by one faith.
Q What Do You Mean By Tailor-made?
Can You Do Absolutely Anything I Want?
Yes we can if appropriate to the occasion but we would also guide you as to what would be appropriate and what wouldn’t, and what we feel would work and what wouldn’t.
Scotland is unique in that we can hold your LEGAL wedding ceremony literally anywhere. Then as we don’t have any restrictions from an organisation, because we work independently we can respond to your individual needs for every aspect of your ceremony (language, readings, music, prayers, terms/names for your deity, creative or traditional elements).
We don’t hold traditional religious ceremonies and must make clear that we offer additional options to those offered by Church Ministers, Rabbis, Imams and so on. But we would respond to requests for traditional ‘religious elements’ to be included in a ceremony, which would be done with greatest reverence and sensitivity for the tradition it comes from.
Q Do You Ever Travel To Hold Ceremonies?
Yes! We travel!
We’re based, Angie near the village of Findhorn near Forres in Northern Scotland at The Park, in the wider community of the Findhorn Foundation, and Jane on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
We’re open to travel to hold ceremony if our additional expenses are covered on top of the fee for the ceremony.
We work with technology – phone, email, Skype, so if it’s not possible to meet you prior to your ceremony it’s no problem for us. Equally if you’re local or decide to visit the area prior to your wedding we can meet up.
Q What Does The Term Ordained Mean?
We’re ordained and certified by our community of elders - legally we fall into the category of “non-conformist” ministers.
Some traditions such as Buddhists and Christians use the term ordination. As their definition may differ from ours, we clarify that we use the term to indicate that we’ve taken vows and that we’ve been witnessed taking our vows.
We’ve taken personal and individual vows, as well as group vows in a public ceremony during which we’re also blessed and anointed by our elders and teachers.
Part of our group vows are to commit to living and working by a code of ethics.
Q What Does The Term Minister Mean?
We are not politicians nor members of the clergy nor claiming to be a new religion. We are a new breed of Minister – The People’s Ministers rather than Ministers of a church or religion. We minister to each person’s individual needs, or minister in a way which is inclusive to a group.
We’re not associated with any church or particular religious or spiritual path, nor do we have assigned parishes or posts. In our area of Scotland we are two of a group of Ministers but we are the only ones at present available full time for ministry.
We’re not claiming to replace members of the clergy – what we offer is in addition to what they offer.
Society’s needs and wants are changing and evolving. In terms of the dictionary definition “attend to the needs of” that’s what we aim to do as Ministers, attend to the ever changing every day spiritual needs of our fellow human beings, whatever those needs might be.
Q How Much Do You Charge?
All our ceremonies are customised and made personal for you. We’ve developed a range of options and prices for our ceremonies so we can respond to all requests.
In 2016 Angie's wedding ceremonies begin from £395.
Angie's funerals and baby blessings start at £275 and £175 respectively.