A reflection on ordination, ministry and the profoundly rewarding work of holding funerals.
I’m Rev Patricia Tidy and I was ordained with OneSpirit in a ceremony at Second Church of Christ Scientist, Notting Hill, London on 16th July 2011 on the wettest day since Noah floated his ark! But the rain didn’t dampen our spirits! On that beautiful day when 40 ministers flew the mother nest and set out on epic journeys it was all very exciting.
For some it was a flight out into the unknown, and for some the direction of flight was already determined. As I had been working as a Celebrant for a couple of years prior to training as a OneSpirit Minister I continued to take the funeral services that I had come to love. But now it was with a renewed energy, purpose and armed with a lot more information, experience, knowledge and a wider view of humanity.
I feel that my best practice is with the grieving. Yes I lead Wedding Blessings, Baby Blessings, Renewal of Wedding Vows, Commitment Ceremonies and even a change of name by deed poll ceremony… but it is the Funerals that bring joy to my heart.
And so on the 19th June 2012 I completed the Grief Recovery Training to expand my awareness even more of grieving families and to offer assistance, which along with the training as a Spiritual Counsellor, I have, and will continue to lend support to those who are struggling with coming to terms with death and disappointment.
And then on 1st October 2017 I completed the Infant Loss Training which is invaluable when helping grieving parents and arranging a funeral for their stillborn baby or young child.
And now eleven years on from my first funeral service, and seven years on since my ordination I find myself in a good place. And now that I can reflect back over those years I count many blessings. I have shared services with Imam’s, Priests, Puja’s and Buddhists. And I have conducted services incorporating the teachings of Buddhism, Judaism, Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Mazdaznan and Pagan.
Graveside services, Woodland services and even services and burials conducted on farmland, and those with Mayor’s attending are all wonderful memories, and without the deeply moving and essential teaching of OneSpirit Interfaith it would never have been possible.
But in all of these services the emphasis has been on LOVE. The majority of my funeral services are ‘Celebrations’, and this is what most families gain the greatest comfort from, having someone speak about their loved one with insight, compassion and professionalism.
Each every service I take I introduce myself as a OneSpirit Interfaith Minister, and I do so with pride. And yes, people come up to me and say “What is an interfaith minister?” And then I am reminded of my vow “I promise to serve with compassion and remain mindful of my deep connection with the Divine Source of all.” And one of the paragraphs in my mission statement which says “The skills I have developed for deep listening are my anchor – and a bridge – offering love and respect to all I encounter.”
And so to those new ministers who are considering working with the grieving, I tell you this… it is most rewarding, it is greatly satisfying, and it makes a difference. I don’t pretend for one moment that a well executed funeral service solves all that a family and friends of a loved one are going through, but it helps, and I always view the service as a step towards healing.
A service conducted with respect, dignity and compassion ensures that my heart is in the right place, my thoughts are clear, and I am fulfilling my vows. I send my love to you all.