Rites of Passage

We are proud to recognize special milestones in people’s lives.  These are the wonderful “rite-of-passage” we honor at First Parish of Sudbury. 

Child Dedication

From earliest times, adults have brought children to houses of worship for special ceremonies of welcome. In the presence of family and friends, the name of the child is spoken, and the parents acknowledge their responsibility. We also acknowledge that members of the congregation are charged with caring for and protecting all children who are part of the community. Most Unitarian Universalists do not use the term “baptism” because of its association with traditional Christian doctrines. Also rarely used is the term “christening”, which means to make Christian.  Many congregations call the ritual a “naming ceremony”, or most frequently a “child dedication”.  Elements in the service include the use of water as the source of life, and a flower as the symbol of the powers of life to grow and renew. While most commonly performed for infants, older children and even adults are welcome to be dedicated into the faith. This ceremony is also most frequently conducted during a regular worship service, but sometimes a private celebration can be scheduled. When Unitarian Universalist congregations dedicate a new life, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of that person, and his/her potential for making a difference in the world.

Please contact the minister to arrange for more information about a child dedication for your child. 

First Chalice

First Chalice is a program for our 2-4th graders. We publicly recognize that these children are starting to think for themselves and will begin finding themselves in more situations in which they have to make choices based on what they think is right and wrong. The children learn about our Unitarian Universalist principles and how they live these principles in their own lives. They learn about famous Unitarian Universalist “Super Heroes” and are invited to connect with a member from our congregation who is living out their principles like our UU ancestors did. The children take part in a special ceremony where they are presented with personal-sized chalices, the UU symbol of our freedom to seek out and follow our own religious truths.

We will offer this program in the fall of 2023.

First Mentor

Another Youth Sunday rite-of-passage is a ceremony for our youth who are eleven or who are middle schoolers new to First Parish. We recognize the significant steps they are making as they become more independent members of both our world and our religious community. We want to acknowledge them as they step into this new stage of increasing freedom and responsibility. We wish to complement the loving relationships our youth have with their families and offer them friendship opportunities with other adults who share similar values. To do this, we invite each of the youth to select a “First Parish friend” symbolic of their ability to create their own relationships with adults at First Parish. Each youth and adult friend will meet several times to talk about why it’s important to be UU in today’s world and to work together on a small “community service” project. This relationship will be a simplified vision of the “mentor” relationship that they will later have in the Coming-of-Age program. Then during the Youth Sunday service, these mentors will introduce the youth to the community and offer special words in honor of the youth. The mentors will present the youth with a small gift from First Parish that symbolizes our ongoing affirmation and support for them.

We will offer this program in the fall of 2023.


The Coming-of-Age program is a highly regarded program in the Unitarian Universalist tradition for recognizing our teenage youth as they are becoming adults. The goal of this program is for the youth to explore and define their self-identity as UUs. This includes but is not limited to actively participating in discussions about deep theological questions; developing a close relationship with a First Parish mentor; exploration of their own deepening spirituality; exploration of social injustice and involvement in Social Action work; and involvement in meaningful “community” worship. A program highlight is the presentation of personal credos during the Coming-of-Age worship service in the Spring.

The program will next be offered in 2023-2024 year.

Bridging Ceremony

Another recognition is a ceremony in honor of our high school graduates.  We share what each youth is planning to do after graduation and present a congratulatory gift.  It’s an important time to affirm our love and commitment to our youth as they take a significant step out into the world.