Baby's name is very civil

"SOPHIE Edhouse" – these were the first words to grace a civil naming ceremony in Ipswich.Six-month-old Sophie became the first baby to receive her name in a civil ceremony after parents Darren and Kara decided to give church a miss.

"SOPHIE Edhouse" – these were the first words to grace a civil naming ceremony in Ipswich.

Six-month-old Sophie became the first baby to receive her name in a civil ceremony after parents Darren and Kara decided to give church a miss.

And it was a double celebration at Ipswich Register Office as Darren and Kara also tied the knot.

Dad Darren, of Firefly Way, Ravenswood, said: "We weren't looking for a civil naming ceremony at all, because we didn't know they existed.

"But when we were booking the wedding we were told about the civil ceremony and it seemed like a good idea.

"We were going to get people to become a special auntie or uncle to Sophie and this seemed like a nice way to do it."

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The ceremony was performed by registrar Valerie Grundy in a new role of celebrant – as the event had no legal basis.

Poems were read out before Darren and Kara confirmed the name they had chosen for their little girl and made promises about the way they intended to bring her up.

Four friends took the role of godparents and also made promises to support Sophie through her childhood.

Then it was the turn of the grandparents who guaranteed they would hand on the benefits of their experience.

Everyone involved seemed genuinely touched by what was obviously a very personal ceremony.

But despite the personal element, mum Kara said it had been easy to design the ceremony for her baby.

She said: "It wasn't hard at all. You're given a booklet to go through to make your choices.

"But when we looked at it there were a lot of things in there that we liked – it's flexible and structured at the same time."

And in addition to the personal pleasure of arranging everything themselves, there was also a practical angle revealed by Darren.

He said: "It was a lot easier getting everyone together for one event."

It seems the naming ceremony is likely to be on the up in the future. Mrs Grundy confirmed she already received a few inquiries.

Suffolk County Council believes the ceremonies – offered in conjunction with Civil Ceremonies Ltd – offer a dignified alternative for people without religious belief.

Future ceremonies can take place at any venue licensed for civil marriages and may include non-registrars in the celebrant role.

Panel:

While civil ceremonies – including funerals – may be on the rise, Father Paul Bourner believes the church still has much to offer.

As parish priest of St Thomas's, Fr Bourner has seen fewer families applying for Christian baptisms.

He said: "People have to make their own minds up, you can't make them come to church.

"But if they do come, we want them to stay true to the faith that they have.

"We have to recognise that people have choice and that church and Christian baptism are not something they're interested in.

"At St Thomas's there are things happening that bring young people into church – it's not all dying.

"As a Christian, you have to stand up and say what you believe, but life today is all about the now."

Many parents choose civil ceremonies to give their child a choice in following a religion in later life.

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