District of Columbia
Phone: (202) 360-0608
Melody Hensley is the previous Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry–DC. Melody has a background in volunteering and community organizing. She has been involved with church-state separation and secular activism, as well as reproductive rights and progressive issues, in the D.C. area for over a decade. Prior to her role as CFI–DC Executive Director, she served as the CFI–DC Event and Volunteer Coordinator.
Phone: (703) 254-6166
Jennifer Caires is a Certified Creativity Coach. As a coach, she helps creative people overcome blocks and obstructions in their work. Jennifer holds a BA in writing and has worked in publishing and higher education. Jennifer embraces a humanist world view and is dedicated to free inquiry, reason, and rationality. She is a CFI–DC Friend of the Center.
- Marriage Ceremonies
- Same-sex Commitments
- Child Welcoming
- Other Ceremonies
Why a CFI Secular Celebrant?
Persons who are not affiliated with any religion constitute 16% of the US population. Unfortunately, the choice of persons to conduct ceremonies for marriages, same sex commitments, memorials, and other rites of passage is usually between religious clergy and civil officials.
For a nonreligious person this can be a traumatic experience. They may be required to go through religious counseling and/or have religious references in their ceremony. They may be prevented from having their choice of music or readings as part of the ceremony. The local minister called on to conduct a funeral/memorial may preach a “come to Jesus” sermon or otherwise use religious references that are not in keeping with the worldview of the person being memorialized. Many of us have seen this done.
Additionally, civil officials are usually not available to do marriage ceremonies at the place and time of the couple’s choosing, but only in a government setting such as an office or the courthouse. Furthermore, these officials are typically personally unknown to the couple. Wedding ceremonies, memorials, and other life passages are extremely important events – they are life’s milestones – and people should be able to have these ceremonies conducted in a manner and by a person of their choosing.
While some people of the secular worldview do not see a need for rituals and ceremonies of any kind, many feel that having a way of marking life passages is important. CFI feels that this is a personal choice and that secular ceremonies – and persons to conduct these ceremonies – should be available to those who want them.
By utilizing the services of a CFI-certified secular celebrant, members of the non-religious community may mark life’s milestones in ways that are most personally meaningful to them. In addition, utilizing certified secular celebrants’ services to perform weddings will assist CFI in bringing legal challenges to laws that allow religious officials to solemnize marriages, but unconstitutionally bar representatives of secular organizations from doing so.