Rituals and Life Transitions

Throughout the year Pastoral Team leads the congregation in rituals that mark life transitions or recognize special times in the life of the congregation. If you would like more information about any of our rituals and life transitions, please contact one of the pastors.

Parent/Child Dedication — CMC offers this dedication in praise for God’s work in forming the newborn child and placing the child in the care of parent/s and the church.  Parent/s commit themselves to the calling of raising the child in the church so that the child can come to his/her own faith in Christ at a later point in time.  The dedication takes place during a worship service, during most times of the church calendar. We recommend this ritual in the first six months of life, and recognize that there are circumstances in which parents make this commitment later.  Parent/s are invited to share with the congregation what the dedication means for them in about 300 words or choose a hymn that they would like to have included in the worship service.

Baptism — CMC offers baptism by water a few times every year.  Baptisms usually take place in the baptistery (behind the sanctuary stage), in which two pastors submerge the person being baptized.  Baptism is an act of God, of the church, and of the believer; it’s also a sign that the believer has repented, received forgiveness, renounced evil, and died to sin.  Baptism by water is a pledge to serve Christ and minister as a member of Christ’s body according to the gifts given to each believer. CMC high school students who would like to be baptized attend Catechism Class prior to baptism.  Other adults preparing for baptism usually meet several times one-on-one with a pastor.

12 Year-Old Retreat — CMC offers a one-night retreat for youth who will turn twelve (and one parent) to recognize the upcoming transition that will be happening in the youth’s life as well as the household.  The retreat includes group games, parent-child reflection time, special attention to the story of Jesus at a similar age (Luke 2:39-53), and distribution of the 12 Year-Old Bibles. Often two CMC pastors attend and lead the retreat.

Anointing Rituals — CMC offers anointing during worship several times each year.  Stations are located on the main floor and in the balcony. At each station a pastor or pastoral elder is prepared to anoint a person on their palm or forehead and to pray for the request the person is bringing to God.  The pastor or pastoral elder usually checks in with the person in the weeks following the anointing ritual.

Lord’s Supper — CMC celebrates the Lord’s Supper (sometimes referred to as Eucharist or Communion) several times each year.  This ritual begun by Jesus with his disciples has a range of moods and many dimensions. It is always a meal of remembrance of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection.  It is always a meal of reconciliation with one other and with God. It is always a meal of hope for the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. In the Anabaptist tradition the Lord’s Supper is a ritual in which we recall our baptismal covenant with Christ and the church, even the willingness to lay down one’s life.  We invite all baptized believers-members and attenders of our congregation and guests–to share in the bread and cup. We serve gluten-free bread and grape juice.

Church membership — CMC takes church membership seriously.   Our CMC Covenant Litany describes our shared understanding of membership in this congregation.
Our membership process includes preparation–often meeting with a pastor, participating in the Exploring Church Membership class for adults, or a catechism class for youth.  We receive groups of new members several times throughout the year. We receive members through baptism and confession of faith, or by a letter of transfer and confession of faith. We also offer associate membership to persons who carry membership in another congregation or denomination. Like most congregations, we have an ongoing membership list that we update annually with our conference.  We also have a ritual of annually renewing membership with CMC in our Covenant Renewal worship service. We invite all those who worship regularly with CMC to consider becoming members.

On Sundays when we are receiving new members we invite persons to share their current testimony of faith in Jesus Christ in light of our Covenant LitanyThe congregation responds with a pledge of commitment to the new members and we offer a gift of bread.  There are many Bible passage related to bread–from God’s providing freed slaves manna in the wilderness, to Jesus announcing: I am the Bread of Life.  Hans de Ries, a 17th century Dutch Anabaptist wrote: We, though many, are one body since we are all participants in one bread.  As the bread is milled from many grains and is then one so that we can no longer distinguish the fat from the lean, just so we are one in Christ.  

Covenant Renewal —  As congregation we welcome all our members to renew their covenant with Christ and the church annually.  This practice has been a life-giving feature of our congregation for many decades. If you are participating in the life and witness of CMC and not yet a member, please talk with one of the pastors.  We would be happy to help you prepare for this step in your faith journey. Our CMC Covenant Litany describes our shared understanding of church membership

Our current covenant renewal ritual takes place on the same Sunday (usually late Nov. or early Dec.) as our annual congregational meeting.  During worship the congregation will affirm our Covenant Litany together. During the congregational meeting, members will share in smaller circles (6-8 people) their current “100 word testimonies” about what membership in this body of believers means for them.  In this adaptation of CMC’s practice we continue to value sharing our commitments to Christ and the church face-to-face, even as a larger congregation.

Engagement and Pre-marital Counseling — CMC pastors are all trained to guide couples in a series of premarital counseling sessions using Prepare-Enrich, an excellent resource for couples.  Couples pay a $35 fee for the relationship inventory materials, but the counseling sessions with one of our pastors are free for members and regular attenders.  As a congregation we are part of a city-wide effort to encourage premarital counseling, so our pastors officiate at weddings only when couples have taken the preparatory step of premarital counseling.  We recommend premarital counseling for about 6 sessions, beginning 4-5 months before the wedding. Thinking of getting engaged? Talk to one of your pastors.

Marriage/Weddings — CMC celebrates the life-long covenant of marriage between two people.  CMC pastors will officiate weddings that suit their schedules, so we recommend making your request well in advance.  As a congregation we are part of a city-wide effort to encourage premarital counseling, so our pastors officiate at weddings only when couples have taken the preparatory step of premarital counseling.  We recommend premarital counseling for about 6 sessions, typically beginning 4-5 months before the wedding. Couples typically offer the officiating pastor an honorarium ($100-150) for the rehearsal and ceremony.  Our pastors are happy to collaborate with other clergy who may be part of the wedding. For more information about use of the CMC sanctuary, contact the Church Administrator.

Retirement Ritual — For many adults, retirement represents a major life transition, with both accomplishments to celebrate and losses to grieve. CMC offers an opportunity each year for those who have recently retired or will be soon retiring to be recognized and blessed as they enter this new chapter of life with a liturgy included in Sunday morning worship. Participants have the opportunity to choose bring an object to worship that symbolizes their working life, to share the meaning of the object for their life, and to describe their hopes and plans for life after retirement. If you’d like to be included in the next retirement ritual, please be in contact with a member of Pastoral Team.

Care Teams — CMC has a network of small groups and other friendships that provide a great deal of mutual care for persons in our congregation.  For some protracted or acute situations that households are facing we also have Care Teams. These teams, led by a pastor, are usually 4-5 persons discerned by those seeking support and the pastor.  Households who might benefit from a Care Team include: persons facing serious physical or mental illness and caregivers, challenging parenting circumstances, discernment in job transition or other major life events.  To assess whether a Care Team might be helpful, contact a member of Pastoral Team.

Care Team Guidelines

Memorials/Funerals/Memory Garden — Christian rituals after death help us honor the lives of our loved ones, express and release some of our grief, and deepen our faith in the God whose love is stronger than death.   CMC pastors will officiate at funerals, burials and memorials. Officiating pastors meet with family members in advance to plan the service. Families typically offer the pastor an honorarium ($100-150.)  CMC has a relationship with two local Mennonite congregations who have cemeteries on their grounds for burial. We also invite those who choose cremation to consider the CMC Memory Garden as an option.

Below are several documents prepared by Pastoral Team that can be helpful in preparing for end of life and funeral/memorial planning.

CMC’s End of Life Planning Form

Funeral/Memorial Service Planning Guidelines

Memory Garden Agreement

Memory Garden Agreement Details