Doug McCleary: Celebrant, Officiant, Musician


I grew up in Portland Oregon, attending Madison High School in the late 70's.  I participated in Music and Drama in High School, as well as being a city-champion Swimmer and running Cross Country.  I was also very involved in my church and began considering ministry as a vocation during those years.

Following High School I attended Whitworth University in Spokane Washington, earning a Bachelor's degree in Music and Religious Studies.  It was during my college years that I had my first opportunities to preach and speak publicly--discovering an aptitude for both.

After college, I spent four years working as a Youth Minister, Musician and Recording Studio Engineer and Manager.  I grew a small youth program tenfold, as well as produced the music of numerous Spokane musical artists.  In 1988, the sense of "call" to ministry led me to attend seminary.

I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, with a Master of Divinity degree focusing on pastoral care and preaching.  I was ordained in 1992 in the Presbyterian Church USA.  I pastored two congregations during my eight years in parish ministry.   It was while pastoring my second church that I became proficient in planning and officiating Funerals and Memorials.  The local funeral home in the small town began calling me when they had families without clergy because they liked my style and the way I connected with families.

My life wound it's way to Central Florida, where I quit pastoral ministry, worked for a year as a child abuse investigator, then moved back to Portland to help care for my aging mother prior to and through her death.  Upon returning to Portland a friend, who was a funeral director, invited me to officiate at a funeral service, and from that my Vocation was born.

Being a Celebrant--for me--grew out of my own experiences of loss (I am at the age where not only have I lost both of my parents, I have begun to lose friends), my own internal sense that I am doing something with purpose and meaning, and the reception I receive when doing funerals.  The greatest compliment I can receive is when someone asks "how long did you know (the decedent)?"  I know, then, that I have done my job to my own level of expectation (which is very high). 

Thus, since 2001, I have  worked either part-time or full-time as a Celebrant, helping thousands of families in and around the Portland area to remember their loved ones with empathy, excellence and a kind, personal touch, as well as officiating at numerous wedding celebrations.  I also have played music at funerals and weddings, and played some of the best venues and concert series around the NW with various bands and artists.

It is a great joy to help families celebrate and honor the lives of their loved ones and life transitions like weddings.  To me, it is a "holy" privilege to be invited into the depth of a family's grief to help them find the words and actions they need to say goodbye and to begin moving forward with their lives.  I find personal satisfaction in knowing I have served families with empathy and excellence, and I am honored that families respond with such kindness and appreciation.