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Turning 16 often involves rites of passage. Young people turning 16 may throw large parties with fancy attire and decorations. There's an alternative to this type of gathering that practicing Christians may prefer. A Sweet 16 church ceremony marks a time to celebrate life and coming of age. These ceremonies can vary based on your preferences and denomination.
Tell your priest or minister that you would like to hold a ceremony in honor of a 16th birthday. Some churches have regular ceremonies for 16-year-olds, while at others it may be a new idea. If your pastor is unfamiliar with this concept, discuss options and see what he or she suggests.
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Work with the pastor to decide whether the ceremony will be a separate event with friends and family or be incorporated into a regular church service. Decide on a specific time and date close to the birthday of the honoree.
Choose a prayer of dedication to be said during the ceremony. Some churches may have a predetermined prayer for the occasion. Other options may include having the birthday teen write her own prayer or choose one from a book. This type of prayer may give thanks for the life of the teen, ask for guidance and grace throughout her life or serve as a general blessing. It may be read out loud by the congregation, the teen or the pastor.
Select Bible verses to include in the ceremony. The Bible verses should generally be short and may involve a story that conveys a specific coming-of-age lesson or life lesson. Verses may be chosen by the teen, by the family or jointly with the minister, depending on the service or religious denomination.
Work with the church pastor to determine the order of the service. In some Sweet 16 ceremonies, the parents walk the teen down the church aisle as she is presented to the congregation. In other cases, she may already be sitting up front with her family. Ceremonies may also include candle-lighting, singing of special hymns or songs and blessing of the birthday honoree.
Arrange a rehearsal time if possible. Even if the officiant isn't available, you may be able to run through parts of the ceremony when the sanctuary is free. This can help to alleviate nervousness before the actual ceremony.