Creating Rituals - Welcoming New Members

In a recent post I talked about the aprons we use as part of our welcoming ceremony for new members. And I haven’t put it into the context of our overall welcoming ceremony.

As with our community, our welcoming ceremony is informal and homey. And it still has a little structure. The idea was to make the ceremony a re-bonding experience for everyone and a simple, but heart-felt welcome. At their inception, rituals can feel a bit home-spun, but they build quickly and don’t need to be elaborate.

We begin with a community member reading our Declaration of Interdependence, written by an early member, Adin. I believe we still sigh and smile softly whenever it is read. Ken recently posted it to the whole group as a reminder that ‘we are all in this together’. Powerful words in these times. Then the community member who is the Buddy to the specific member we are celebrating, offers a few words about their relationship and their impressions about that special individual, couple, or family. The Buddy then offers a token gift to the new member. It can be an example of their relationship, something personal, or associated with our community. We’ve had small artistic renderings in a variety of mediums, spheres, notebooks, scrolls, scarves, all fun. The Buddy then offers the apron, that he or she usually has created, to our newest member. If it is a family, multiple aprons are donned. Sometimes, the joining member waits until this moment to make a ceremony of writing a check as part of joining the community. Usually our new members say a few words and the photo op occurs. Then we go through the ritual of formally adding the new member to our legal entity (boring) by signing a form, and we all sign a copy of our Declaration of Interdependence to give as a momento to the new member.

The beauty of this ceremony is that it has a little structure but is very fluid. The set elements are still relaxed and personal. They fit us well.