A rising number of people in the Borders are choosing “interfaith” weddings and funerals over traditional church ceremonies, according to an ordained “interfaith minister and celebrant” based in Galashiels.
Celebrant Morag Cameron, who held her first interfaith wedding at Melrose Abbey last Saturday, first explained what the term means.
“From time immemorial, priests, ministers and those who offer spiritual guidance, of all faiths and traditions, have been there to help, by presiding over services, ceremonies and rites of passage which mark these crucial moments of life experience, and by offering support and spiritual help.
“For us in our modern world, sometimes it is hard to know where to turn for this help. For committed Christians, or those of other well established faiths, the choice is straighforward, for the rest of us it may not be.
A humanist celebrant can offer a secular ceremony, but sometimes that just doesn’t feel right. We long for some sense of the spiritual to be there in our wedding, our baby blessing or our funeral, yet that need is deeply personal, and may not be easy for us to describe or express.
“Interfaith celebrants recognise this need, for ceremonies and services that you could say fall into the spaces between the established faiths.
“The guiding principal that I work by is ‘many ways, one truth’. This sums up my belief that behind all seeking for the touch of spiritual presence, in whatever way this is felt, lies the same oneness, which has had many, many names.”
Morag, a former knitwear designer and now a part-time art teacher at Galashiels Academy, was ordained after two years of study into the Interfaith Seminary in 2008.
“It’s a body of ministers from many faiths and traditions, established and alternative,” she said. “Our aim is to serve people of all beliefs and none.
“I am not attached to one particular church or faith. Over many years, I have personally followed a pathway that has embraced a wide spectrum of spiritual teachings and practices, and have come to the place where I deeply believe that connection, whether it be to each other, the world as a whole, or to a guiding spirit, which we may or may not choose to call god, is what really matters. As a minister and celebrant, it is this sense of connection that I hope to bring into my work.
“In an interfaith ceremony, you will be free to decide exactly what rings true for you, and through consultation together, enable me to create the ceremony that in every way fits your need.”
Morag’s ministry, and those of about eight other interfaith ministers in southern Scotland, was made possible five or six years ago, she says, when the law in Scotland allowed interfaith ministers and humanist celebrants to perform ceremonies.
“In England, I don’t think it’s possible to be married by anyone who isn’t a registrar or a minister of an established church or faith,” said Morag. “Scotland has a wide spectrum of religious tolerance.”
The omens for the future look good, she says: “This year I’ve done fifteen ceremonies –more than one a month – and next year I’m stopping school teaching altogether.”
You can find out more about Morag and her interfaith ministery at www.moragcameron.com