Thursday, 31 December 2015

UK Society of Celebrants Newsletter | December 2015

Hi & Seasonal Greetings to you.

We hope you are keeping well and have enjoyed whichever "Winterval" activities that apply to you.

We would like to thank you for the part you have played in contributing to our best year to date. Our members are establishing their presence all over the English speaking world and educating the public about what we do.

There are many towns and cities in the UK where our members are the first port of call for discerning clients and funeral directors alike and we anticipate demand for your skills to increase rapidly during 2016 as the public progressively become more aware of the quality of your work.

There are several announcements in this newsletter so here goes.

UK Society of Celebrants | Celebrant Awards 2015
After a mammoth two days of deliberations our Tutor \ Mentor Team have selected the winners of our Annual Celebrant Awards. We considered over 300 nominations over all the categories below. We have included the shortlist for each category.

Competition was tougher than ever this year and we have also added some new categories to our Award List.

Celebrant Guru Award 2015

Celebrant of the Year 2015

Funeral Ceremony of the Year 2015

Family Ceremony of the Year 2015

Celebrant Marketing / Social Media & 
Awareness Award 2015

Shortlist nominee citations and the winners list will be published on 14 Jan 2016 after all the winners have been informed. We will also make further announcements regarding Fellowship & Honorary Members.

Celebrant Training
Our Distance Learning Courses continue to account for over 80% of ALL training delivered and there seems to have been a shift in the provision of our classroom training. More people have been trained in the classroom via Personal Tuition as opposed Group Training in the last 3 quarters.

All our classroom training courses will continue to be held every Monday (Tuesdays after Bank Holiday Mondays) at our Lincoln offices.

Course Fees
We have reviewed our Course Fee Structure and many fees will be increasing with effect from 01/01/2016. All courses booked and paid for before 01/01/2016 will secure this years rates as long as the course booked commences before June 2016.

All Course Registrations received in 2015 that have not been paid for can still secure 2015 prices if payments are made by or on 15 Jan 2016. Just give us a call on 0800 772 0762 leave us your name and we will send the appropriate invoice to you.

Membership Fees
Just to remind you, we have received a number of enquiries from our members asking about a monthly subscription for their Membership Fees. As ever we try to do what our members want and this is what we have come up with.

Membership Fees as you may already know are Fixed until at least 2020 at £95 per annum for Full Membership. At present fees are payable in one lump sum. From April 2016 Fees can still be paid the same way but with a choice of paying £95 in one lump sum or via monthly installments of £9. All payments will be through paypal as normal and instructions will be given nearer the time.

Obviously, the monthly payment options works out to be a little more expensive overall, however, the additional cost merely covers the increased administration costs and PayPal charges.

Whilst we make the transition to the new system there will be a Membership Fee Holiday for ALL Members whose annual fees are due by or on 31 March 2016.

Social Media
We continue to be delighted that so many of you are engaging with your public through social media - many of you have a significant following across many platforms. Particular thanks goes to Maria Turley who has started a Private Facebook Group for Our Members who would like to discus ANY celebrant related issue and promote their practice - this group has been well received and has grown quickly in a short period of time.

If you wish to benefit through social media engagement click here to get started and don't forget to follow us too (lots of good stuff), using the links above, as all properly formed posts will be shared by us reaching hundreds of thousands of potential clients.

NB: Please subscribe to our blog here.

Remember, Members can connect with their Mentor for Free instruction on the use of Social Media.

Member Profile Pages
Those of you who have a UKSOC profile page are encouraged to review your pages and refresh your copy and photographs as well as checking your links - it is the New year afterall. Any issues can be resolved quickly (24-48hrs) by sending copy, photos and link information to your Mentor.

Please do not forget that if we can be of any assistance to you at all, please call us for FREE on 0800 772 0762 or drop us a line here.

Thanks for taking the time to read today. 
A Happy New Year to You & Yours. Stay Safe & Be Well

James Convery
Lead Tutor - CEO

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Civil Celebrant | The Civil Circle of Life | Part 4 of 4

Farewells and Funerals

A Mourning Flower
The Circle of Life will, of course, turn and there will be times when we experience great sadness. When someone we love dies the initial shock and distress can be overwhelming. We are barely able to think or process information but during these most difficult days we are faced with some pretty hard decisions. To turn away from what is traditional means that we will have to find something else to replace it and, if that is daunting in the happy moments, then during the distress and vulnerability of bereavement, one would think it an impossible decision to make. Yet that is what is happening more and more frequently.

The choice to exclude religion from a final farewell seems to be driven by the need for total honesty at the end of a life. If the deceased has not worshipped in life, found no comfort in a particular faith and had neither the need or desire to live inside a religious doctrine then it seems right, to those left behind, to honour the choices that were made by their loved-one during life.

The humanist approach at a funeral is the obvious choice for an atheist who has passed away and those attending will not expect any reference to a deity but, for families share differing views and feelings about religion, a ceremony conducted by a Civil or Family Celebrant offers some much-needed middle ground.

It must also be noted that when the ceremony is not dictated by a particular religion the funeral becomes a celebration of the life lived; a time to honour who the person was, what they loved, their achievements, their humour and how they enhanced the lives of all who knew them. In my experience this celebratory approach to all that the person was, rather than focusing on the sadness of their passing, gives the greatest comfort at the saddest of times.

Proper tribute can be paid to the deceased rather than a deity and the funeral ceremony can be constructed without having to consider the restrictions that religious services place on all end of life gatherings taken by clergy.

The committal is the time that most mourners find the most difficult to bear; at this time the coffin will be lowered into the earth or will disappear behind slowly closing curtains and it signifies the moment of final and absolute separation. Even at this most difficult time a Civil Ceremony can soften the last few moments; a civil committal is about the person who has died, what they meant to all who cared for them rather than the return to a faith that meant little to them whilst they were alive

We are unable to hold back what is inevitable - the Circle of Life will continue to turn. All that is mundane is made brighter by the key life moments we experience. Our lives would be lessened if we did not fully embrace love and celebrate a union of two people we care about.

None of us will ever be immune to the pure joy that is experienced when family is extended by a new generation. And we will loose someone we love.

The moments that define our lives will never change; how we honour them now can be!

See Part 1 | Challenging Tradition

See Part 2 | Choices? Make them personal!

See Part 3 | Milestones

Thanks to Kim Greenacre | Civil Celebrant | Celebrant House

Kim is a regular contributor to several magazines and a published poet. Kim is also a member of the UK Society of Celebrants and holds the Diploma in Family & Funeral Celebrancy awarded to Civil Celebrants. For more details about qualified Civil Celebrants in your area please click here.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Civil Celebrant | The Civil Circle of Life | Part 3 of 4

Renewal of Vows
The same dilemmas are faced by couples who manage to reach milestone anniversaries. The current C of E “Thanksgiving for A Marriage” ceremony begins with a formal prayer - if the couple are not regular church goers they may feel a little uncomfortable celebrating the longevity of their union in such a way. Much nicer perhaps for them to invite friends and family to a favourite beauty spot or to their own garden and be the focus of a ceremony written just for them? A bespoke Vow Renewal Ceremony will commemorate their love for each other and their proven commitment to each other - real life reflected in every aspect of the celebration.

The marriage ceremony is of course not the only service that is being scrutinised and found wanting. The traditional christening is also experiencing a decline and Princess Charlotte’s Christening earlier this year was the exception rather than the rule and not just because she is royal.

Although Christenings were already in decline in the latter half of the last century, one in three infants was still baptised into the Church of England in 1980. By 2011 that had fallen to just over one in 10.

This downward trend continues and when the time comes for new parents to formally welcome their child into the world their focus is now on the wonder of a new life rather than the infant’s connection to and acceptance into a religion. The fact that our society is a wonderfully mixed-bag of religions and customs cannot be ignored; the promises demanded of parents and potential guardians (formally known as God-Parents) during a Christening will no longer suit many extended families.

The issues are important but rather than depriving themselves of commemorating such a key event in their lives, these parents are seeking out Civil Celebrants to perform a Naming Ceremony. The ceremony is written after a consultation with the parents and usually the focus is on the miracle of new life, the promises they want to make to their infant and, if life guardians have been selected, confirmation of their promises to the parents and the child.

The civil approach to both of these life-changing events allows those who are celebrating to select a Celebrant who they feel they can trust and who they have an instinctive connection with. These are joyful occasions and if everybody involved with the preparation of the ceremony is completely relaxed and happy the magic happens! Heartfelt sentiments are written and then exchanged and life-long memories made!

Next Week | Part Four : Farewells & Funerals

See Part 1 | Challenging Tradition

See Part 2 | Choices? Make them personal!

Thanks to Kim Greenacre | Civil Celebrant | Celebrant House

Kim is a regular contributor to several magazines and a published poet. Kim is also a member of the UK Society of Celebrants and holds the Diploma in Family & Funeral Celebrancy awarded to Civil Celebrants. For more details about qualified Civil Celebrants in your area please click here.