Ritual for Recognition of Name and Reaffirmation of Covenant

• This is a ritual for a person who has chosen a new name, most often when transitioning between one public gender identification and another.

• This ritual is written for a person already well known to a community, who is maintaining a relationship with that community. As such, it is not necessary, nor helpful, to re-establish the old name or gender identification in order to celebrate the new one.

• Spaces are provided for the new name and for pronouns. It is important to ask the person, prior to this ritual, what name and pronouns are preferred. If the choices include less well known pronouns, such as Ze and Hir (see http://web.mit.edu/trans/GenderNeutralPronouns.pdf),
the community may need to be educated regarding these prior to such a ritual.

• This ritual is not intended to educate people regarding gender transition. If this is a need in the community, it ought be addressed prior to this ritual.

• If the community has a certificate of membership, name tag, or other such document(s) with the person's name, this is a good opportunity to issue new ones.

• This ritual is a celebration of a person bringing more of himself, herself, or hirself to the relationship with the community. It is not one of nervous anticipation, but one of joy.

This service is modeled on other services of initiation and blessing in Book of Worship of the United Church of Christ © 2006 Local Church Ministries.

The parts marked Leader are to be read by the pastor or other leader of the community.

The parts marked One are to be read by the one choosing a new name.

The parts marked Community are to be read by the community at large.

The parts marked Recorder are for the member who records the names, attendance, and other such information for the community.


Leader: Begin with an extemporaneous introduction about the joy of celebrating milestones or transitions in the lives of members of the church.

Leader: In our community, we use many symbols: the cross, the cup, the book.

Names are also symbols:
we can call out a name
to get someone's attention
or we can use a name in conversation
to refer to someone who is not physically present.

Names also have meaning all their own:
Deborah means "bee";
Peter means "rock" or "pebble"

There are times when we choose to change our names
some because of marriage;
some because of other changes in their lives.

Would the person who desires to be known by a new name come forward?
Would our congregation’s registrar also please come forward?

As these persons come forward, the Leader continues:

Leader: The Bible has many examples of people who received new names. Among them:

Abram became known as Abraham;
Sarai became known as Sarah;
Jacob was known as Israel;
Naomi was known as Mara;
Simon was known as Peter;
and Saul was known as Paul.
Leader:    Addressing the person who desires a new name: What is the name by which you wish to be known?

One: I wish to be known by [Name]

Mutual Promises

Leader: [Name] has been a member of this community, in covenant with us.

Today [Name] stands amidst us and brings [him|her|hir]self more fully and openly among us, sharing a deeper sense of who [he|she|ze] is.

This is not a time to mourn the person we have known, for that person is still with us; rather,

This is a time to share in this milestone in [Name’s ]journey and to celebrate the opportunity to know [Name] more fully.

As a sign of your renewed relationship with this Community:

Do you desire to be known in this community and called by the name [Name] ?  If so, answer "I do".

One: I do.

Leader: Do you reaffirm your covenant with this community,  building on the relationship we already have? If so, answer "I do".

One: I do.

Leader: Will you continue to love and support this community as you continue to be a member? If so, say "I will, with the help of God."

One: I will, with the help of God

Leader: Will you work with us as we learn to know you as you have already known yourself,and forgiving us when we fall short? If so, answer "I will, with the help of God".

One: I will, with the help of God.

Leader: Addressing the congregation Will the members of the community please rise as you are able, in spirit and body?

As a sign of this community's renewed relationship with [Name]:

Do you embrace [Name] as [he|she|ze] wishes to be known, respecting the person standing before us today? If so, answer "we do".

Community: We do.

Leader:  Do you reaffirm and strengthen your covenant with [Name], building on the relationship we already have? If so, answer "we do".

Community: We do.

Leader:  Will you continue to love and support [Name] as [he|she|ze] continues as a member of this community? If so, answer "we will, with the help of God".

Community: We will, with the help of God.

Leader:  Will you work with [Name] to learn to know [him|her|hir] as [he|she|ze] has already known [him|her|hir]self? If so, answer "we will, with the help of God".

Community: We will, with the help of God.

Laying on of Hands and Prayer

Leader: The laying on of hands is an ancient means of spiritual connection, often used
in commissioning leaders
in sending people forth
in blessing
and in healing.
I invite all who wish to, to come forward and join with each other in the laying on of hands for [Name].
Let us pray:

Community: Holy One,
Our community asks your blessing upon [Name]:
That you would strengthen [him|her|hir] against adversity;
That you would heal [Name]
when [he|she|ze] is wounded by others;
That you would grant [Name] peace when troubled;
And that you would remind [Name]
that [he|she|ze] is loved by you
And by us.

Leader:    Addressing the Recorder Will you show in our community's documents  that this person is known and called by the name [Name]?

Recorder: I will.

Presentation of new name tag, new membership certificate, and/or other items regarding identity

Leader: [Name], we celebrate our renewed relationship with you.

Ritual for Recognition of Name and Reaffirmation of Covenant was written by Cindi Knox,  an MDiv student at Chicago Theological Seminary and a member of Hope United Church of Christ in Naperville, IL, who underwent a transition in gender in 1987.

Copyright 2012 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115