By JOE MILLICAN, firstname.lastname@example.org The Northern Scot.
WITH church attendance reportedly on the decline, a Moray woman is aiming to prove that non-traditional wedding ceremonies can have huge significance for a bride and groom, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Traditional church weddings, Humanist ceremonies and ceremonies conducted by registrars are just a few of the popular options that couples are now able to consider when planning for their big day.
However, according to interfaith minister Judith Hampson, who lives at Broom of Moy, near Forres, couples should also consider ceremonies that mix religious and other beliefs.
Dr Hampson said she and her fellow non-denominational ministers are trained in ceremony and provide weddings, funerals, blessings and other services. They work with people of all faiths, mixed faiths and people who have no particular beliefs at all.
According to Dr Hampson, recent surveys have indicated that while church numbers have been declining – and fewer and fewer people say they believe in a personal God – the number of people who say they believe in some kind of “spirit” or “life force” continues to rise.
Around half of the population claims to believe in angels or an afterlife, she said, while more than three-quarters believe in people having a soul.
This can often result in couples having a mix of beliefs, said Dr Hampson.
Dr Hampson was ordained in 2006 but only began marrying people one year ago.
There are a number of interfaith ministers, she said, including herself.
“I did not do it (training) because I wanted to be ordained or to do anything with it in particular. I did it because it fascinated me. I wanted to know what was at the heart of all faiths. I did not belief in divisions based on belief,” she said.
“I had no idea what I was going to do. I just found that my inclination was to do something that was a service, and a celebration of life and something that’s very joyful.”
According to Dr Hampson, there is an increased demand for “more flexible” wedding ceremonies.
“We can just be an option,” she said. “Three-quarters of the population, when they are asked various questions, say they do believe in something even if they can’t put their finger on it, or they believe in a soul.
“A lot of people don’t believe in God but when you press them they have some kind of spiritual underpinning, even if they haven’t thought of it.
“My job is to help a couple look at their visions and what their depth of relationship is based upon, and what they want to put in their vows.
“That’s at the very centre of a marriage. If you get that right, that can really anchor the couple’s vision for their marriage. And that’s an important function.”