There are organisations which train people, hold them to a code of conduct and list them on their websites.
Some of these organisations are reputable. Some are relatively new so it is difficult to judge.
Some of the best celebrants don’t belong to any organisation.
The worst don’t, either.
The following training and professional organisations offer a degree of reliability and are selective in their entry requirements.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the pioneer in the field of providing an alternative to a religious funeral. The reputation of its Humanist Ceremonies™ network rides high; everyone speaks well of humanist celebrants.
Humanist Ceremonies™ celebrants are trained and accredited by the BHA and the network extends across England and Wales. The BHA’s sister organisation, the Humanist Society of Scotland, also trains and runs a network of humanist celebrants. All trained and accredited celebrants in the BHA’s Humanist Ceremonies™ network agree to abide by its code of conduct.
If you want a hymn or a prayer in the funeral, a humanist celebrant is not for you. He or she will, though, include a period of silence in the ceremony where anyone who wants can say a silent prayer.
Here is what they say about themselves: “Nothing in a humanist ceremony would offend people who may be uneasy about a non-religious funeral. The idea is not to be hostile to religious beliefs, but to focus in a sincere way on the reality of the life that has ended.” Humanist celebrants offer a highly personal funeral ceremony.
There are quite a few BHA-trained celebrants who are no longer members of the BHA and will allow some religious elements in the ceremony; and there are celebrants who call themselves humanists but have not been trained by the BHA.
Find a BHA-trained humanist celebrant in England or Wales at: http://www.humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/search-for-a-celebrant
Find a trained humanist celebrant in Scotland by contacting the Humanist Society of Scotland here: http://www.humanism-scotland.org.uk/content/celebrants/
If you’d like to conduct your own humanist funeral, the BHA publishes a helpful book, Funerals Without God.
The Institute of Civil Funerals (IoCF)
Members of IoCF are holders of the Ofqual accredited national qualification Level 3 Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy.
They work with clients who don’t want a full religious ceremony, but may want to incorporate some religious elements – a hymn, a prayer.
They also work with people who want a godless funeral.
A civil funeral is, in their words, “a funeral which is driven by the wishes, beliefs and values of the deceased and their family, not by the beliefs or ideology of the person conducting the funeral”.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what the celebrant thinks: he or she says what you think.
All members of the IoCF abide by a code of conduct, are committed to continuing professional development and have their work monitored by the Institute. Some of them term themselves civil celebrants.
There are Civil Ceremonies-trained funeral celebrants who are not members of the IoCF and there are people out there who call themselves civil celebrants who have not been trained by Civil Ceremonies.
Find a Civil Ceremonies-trained celebrant here.
Run by Totnes-based couple Jane Morrell and Simon Smith, authors of We Need To Talk About The Funeral—101 Practical Ways To Commemorate and Celebrate a Life. green fuse offers consultancy, funeral directing and celebrant training. Their celebrants offer the same service as the IoCF and the AOIC. People who have completed are awarded a Level Three Diploma and includes a module on helping families to create meaningful ritual in the funeral ceremony.They’re mostly really good.
Find a green fuse celebrant here.
The Interfaith Seminary
Trains people in a two-year course to “serve the spiritual needs of people from all faiths and none”. Its ministers do not sign up to just one religion.
Instead, “the Interfaith Seminary, believing that there is One God/Truth and many paths leading to the Source of All, is grounded in a universal and inclusive approach to spirituality. It is not designed as a rival to traditional religions.”
Interfaith ministers are well suited to people who have their own, personal spiritual beliefs but have not signed up to a mainstream religion.
They are also happy to conduct funerals for people who have no faith at all. They specialise in creating highly personal ceremonies and are noted for the care they take.
Fellowship of Independent Celebrants Ltd (FOIC)
FOIC celebrants are holders of a NOCN Level 3 qualification in ‘Civil Celebrancy in the UK’ and they sign up to a code of ethics. They conduct non-religious and semi-religious funerals. Celebrant members are listed on the FOIC website, which you can find here.
Other funeral celebrant organisations
We can’t make a judgement about the quality of celebrants trained by any of the following organisations at the moment (we’re working on it). Pick up the vibe from their websites. Tell us if we have missed any