Rites of passage focus attention and energy on moments when a person stands on the cusp of new life and change. When a young girl celebrates her Sweet 16, Christians may want to engage her imagination for the life of Christian possibilities and responsibilities at her feet. Draw a girl’s attention to the blessings, to powerful Christian women as role models and to a girl’s Christian obligation.
Soulful Sweet 16 Ceremony
As the Sweet 16 celebrant contemplates and anticipates young adulthood, give her cause to ask God to guide her thoughts and actions and to bless her with virtues. Mrs. Fame Chanelle-Stroman, author of “Soulful Sweet 16: Celebration into Womanhood for African Americans,” offers an African-American Sweet 16 ceremony. A church leader introduces the young celebrant with a biographical sketch. Elders and the father gather with the girl who wears a crown and carries white flowers. After receiving the Queen Elders’ blessing, the girl receives a gift of the Bible from her mother, birthstone earrings from her father and a gift of the Queen Elders’ choosing. Each gift reminds the girl of virtues, such as faith, obedience and respect for her womanhood.
Women of God Scripture Ceremony
Christians have access to an ancient line of women who epitomize Christian values. Christian parents can encourage their daughter to delve into the Bible and expose her to the many faces of godly women. A young girl can select two women from the Bible – one from the Hebrew Scriptures and one from the Christian Scriptures. On the girls’ Sweet 16, she can tell her guests whom she chose and why she chose them. She can read from the scriptural texts that describe the women and their actions. At the end of the readings, the girl may read a brief commitment statement in which she pledges to reflect the values of the women she chose.
Sweet 16 Blessing Ceremony
A Sweet 16 celebrant, her family and guests sometimes make a church ceremony part of her celebration. Parents ask their pastor to perform a blessing ritual. With readings from Scripture, a presentation to assembled guests and a dedication prayer for the girl, she prays for the grace, wisdom and courage to live and grow in her Christian commitment to Jesus Christ.
Chastity Ring Ceremony
Christians emphasize the value and virtue of chastity in young people. A chastity or purity ring ceremony can be an important element of a Sweet 16 celebration. A silver chastity ring gives a young girl a tangible reminder of her commitment to abstain from sexual relations until she marries. Some Christian parents wear matching silver rings as reminders to support their daughter as she navigates the physical temptations as a young adult. The celebrant can read the Canticle of Mary in Luke 1:46-56 to echo Mary’s purity, faith and obedience to God’s will. A framed copy of the canticle will remind the girl of the day and her role model.
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