As the summer season comes to close and autumn approaches, we Unitarian Universalists begin the new church year with our Water Communion. This ritual, sometimes called Water Ceremony, was first used at a Unitarian Universalist (UU) worship service in the 1980s.
At a conference of Women and Religion in East Lansing, Michigan, Carol McDade and Lucille Shuck Longview were working on women’s spirituality and their empowerment. For them, water symbolized “birth waters, the cycles of the moon, tides and women.” They conceived it as a way for women living apart to come together locally. They would bring water from their home locations, pour it into a common bowl, and indicate what made it holy for them. After dipping their hands into the water, they would bless each other, imparting their individual strengths to their common goals. Subsequently, Rev. McDade had gone on to write “Spirit of Life, a top favorite of songs from the UU hymnal.
From that beginning this ritual has grown into use by a majority of UU congregations. Members bring to the service a small amount of water from a place that is special to them. During the appointed time in the service, people one by one pour their water together into a large bowl. As the water is added, the person who brought it tells why this water is special to them. The combined water is symbolic of our shared faith coming from many different sources. It is often then blessed by the congregation, and sometimes is later boiled and used as the congregation's "holy water" in child dedication ceremonies and similar events.
The Water Ceremony/ Communion Service is an excellent opportunity for Unitarian Universalist congregations to express their commitment to our Sixth Principle: We covenant to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
For more information, please search the UUA website UUA.org for history and suggestions of Water Communion services.
At UUOCC, THE Rev. Julie Newhall will lead the Water Communion ceremony on September 12, 2017. All are invited to attend.
THIS MONTH IN UU HISTORY – September 2017
Embrace the Soul ... Embolden the Spirit ...
Enrich the Community
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