ULC Celebrates World Religion Day
Many religions share goals of strengthening love, hope, and faith both within individuals and amongst a community
Since 1950, the third Sunday of January has been the official day of celebration of World Religion Day. This day of recognition of the commonalities between all world religions was originally started by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. It has also been adopted as a day of celebration by the Universal Life Church since their inception in 1959.
The ULC was founded with the basic doctrine to, “Do only that which is right.” Anyone may become ordained as an interfaith minister by the church free of charge.
This year, World Religion Day will be celebrated on Sunday, January 20th with activities all around the globe. The purpose of the celebration is opening doors of communication between people of all faiths, and even those without expressed faith, to identify common values and goal that promote world harmony.
Celebration of World Religion Day does not require being a member of Baha’is or the ULC. While interfaith ministers will preside over ceremonies in many places, all people are encouraged to participate by doing something that recognizes the fundamental affinity of all world religions. Such activities include:
• Attending the religious services of another faith.
• Initiating a conversation with someone of another faith about the commonalities between religions.
• Attending a celebration of World Religion Day sponsored by the Universal Life Church or Baha’is organizations.
• Personal contemplation of the common goals of all world religions in their aspiration to work as a motivating force for harmony in the world.
The goals of all religions include a desire for peace and an expression of universal love for all humankind. Some may want to become ordained as an interfaith minister in the ULC as a way of assisting others who seek religious recognition or want to perform a wedding, baptism or passing away, but who do not feel comfortable within the structures of more traditional churches and centers of faith.
All religions and faiths have a common core of belief that can become obscured by doctrinal differences and differing rituals and practices. World Religion Day is a moment to recall and celebrate what unites us all beyond and above our diverse ways of expressing our desire for universal love, harmony and peace.
How to Organize a Green Wedding Ceremony
Farms not only can provide fresh food and flowers for a wedding, but also a beautiful rustic backdrop
If you are a wedding officiant chances are greater than ever that the couple might ask you to perform a wedding that is environmentally friendly. The unique philosophy of the Universal Life Church (ULC) often places their officiants at the center of the wedding preparations, instead of simply being a participant. Many ULC couples embrace a green lifestyle and want leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.
So what does one do if you are presented with such a request? Here are a few pointers:
* It’s more than recycling – everything connected with the wedding is either made of recycled materials, or recycled afterwards, or both. But the important thing to do for the environment is to get the message of sustainability across. So the green wedding must not only demonstrate recycling, but also demonstrate its message in a fun and original way. Don’t tell – show!
* Go to the food! Perform a wedding ceremony out in nature – perhaps on a scenic organic farm or even a vineyard, if you’re in wine country. These days there are many organic community food co-operatives who have beautiful gardens. Having your wedding ceremony in such a setting will minimize the fossil fuels needed to bring in food, especially if it could be a vegetarian wedding, since many ULC members are vegetarian anyway.
* Show the lifestyle of the farm laborers: Since community food co-op members perform the farm work themselves, they are not ‘laborers’ in the strict sense, but farmer-owners of the enterprise. But even on an organic farm – why not invite some of the people who produce the food to participate in a small dedication ceremony? For instance, the wedding officiant could briefly ask for a blessing on the hands that helped grow the food. This will give extra meaning (and taste!) to the food.
* Don’t destroy in order to decorate: There are so many beautiful things in nature – so why truck in flowers (or even fly them in from Holland)? Find local wildflowers, if they’re in season. There’s sure to be somebody in the wedding party and their families who knows how to make something beautiful out of what’s available. After all, that’s the very heart of sustainability!
* Wear and use things that have not been produced specially for the occasion. Using a hand-made pottery dinner service is low-footprint and a beautiful example of how to use the earth without putting back intoxicants into it afterwards. Wearing grandma’s wedding dress doesn’t only cut out the prodigious waste involved in wedding dresses, but is also a symbol of the continuity of our families on this earth. Come to think of it; the very wastefulness of a modern wedding is what bothers many green-minded couples – and, to be honest, the officiants who perform their weddings.
Finally, let’s take the massive “I” out of our green wedding and go back to the time when the entire village rejoiced because a couple – and potentially new children! – was being added to the community. This is how we move closer to the earth: By celebrating our humanity joyously and peacefully in the arms of Mother Earth. And this is how you can have a wedding ceremony that still stands out in the couple’s minds – and those of their friends – long after many others have been forgotten.