I spent many years of my life as a church pastor, which included being present with people in some of the highest and lowest moments of their lives. I celebrated the joy and excitement of new-found love or a second chance at love in the wedding ceremonies I officiated. I also shared many moments of grief, sadness, and loss, and celebrating the life and legacy of a loved one in funeral and memorial services. There are many significant and special moments in a person's life—the birth of a child, rites of passage, life celebrations, graduations, new beginnings, and final goodbyes—that I was called upon and a part of as a minister.
In 2005, I left my professional ministerial life and the religious faith I had devoted many years of my life to. I have authored several books about my journey out of religion, and I offer guidance, counseling, and support for others who are leaving or have left their faith. In some cases, these are people who were deeply damaged by their previous religious involvement and toxic religious beliefs. The good news is how these people find new and more hopeful and inspiring answers to questions about life's meaning and purpose, and create lives of happiness, peace, love, freedom, self-empowerment and personal well-being.
All people want to share, celebrate, mark, honor, memorialize, and make special those moments, milestones, people, passages, be-ginnings, and endings that make us who we are. I became a Humanist Celebrant and Chaplain because many people embrace these milestones with profound human meaning instead of with religious significance. As a natural part of our human journey, not a supernatural one but as an acknowledgment of what we know matters in our innermost being and not in the doctrines imposed by religion.
A wedding ceremony, funeral or memorial service, baby namings, major life event, rites of passage or life celebrations and gatherings, commitment/same-sex unions, or other life cycle ceremonies can be authentic, meaningful, inspiring, inclusive, creative, personal, sincere, straightforward, non-traditional and spiritual, without being religious or "churchy," or involving God-talk, Bible passages, religious readings.
I work within an organization or community to provide a Humanist perspective for those who want or could benefit from it. A Humanist Chaplain provides pastoral care based on Humanist principles. That could be a person who merely wants a friendly chat, education about Humanism, exploring life's existential questions from a secular perspective, or discussing more difficult issues within a non-religious framework. Humanist Chaplains offer comfort, compassion, empathy, support and guidance in times of personal or community crisis or catastrophic events such as natural disasters or other unrest. A Humanist Chaplain often has an active presence in hospitals and prisons, and involve themselves in As a Humanist Chaplain, typically peace-building and community organizing.
I entered professional ministry many years ago because I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. After leaving my ministerial life and religious faith, I felt a void from no longer playing this kind of significant role with people. Being a Humanist Celebrant and Chaplain allows me to serve people in similar ways, but from a set of values, beliefs, and mindsets that express was is most real and authentic for me. I find this Celebrant and Chaplain work very rewarding.