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Our UU Water Ceremony and Ingathering -- Sept 3!

It’s Coming! Our annual Water Ceremony to be celebrated with an all ages service at UUFG on Sunday, September 3. On that day, I invite you to bring a small container of water, symbolizing a place where water has been important for you, or a location where water is pivotal to the wellbeing of our the planet. If you are unable to bring water, there will be a pitcher at the service so that you may pour water remind you of the place that you hold in your heart. What follows is from the Rev. Krista Taves’ recent column about the origins of the Water Ceremony (sometimes called the “Water Communion”)*. May her words help us more fully to appreciate this 40-year old UU tradition. [Click "Read more..." to continue]


“In the 1970s and 1980s, 2nd wave feminism transformed Unitarian Universalism. While our faith was always liberal, always progressive, always slightly ahead of the curve in many ways, it was also steeped in patriarchal assumptions. There were very few women ministers. Women were directed towards stereotypically female leadership roles, like Fellowship and Religious Education. Our hymnal still used “men” as the generic for humankind. There was also a strong mind/body split in our worship services. . . .

“In 1977 the Women in Religion Conference, attended by lay and ordained women, began raising the bar. They asked for a sexism audit of the Unitarian Universalist Association. They demanded that time and energy be spent on supporting women in ministry. They expressed the need for a gender neutral hymnal.

“In congregational life, UU women began intentionally moving into non-raditional leadership roles to bring about the changes they wanted to see, including changes to Worship. . .They wanted a more spiritual focus, a balance of the head and heart, and they wanted more ritual because it was one of the most effective ways of creating worship that celebrated our embodied selves.

“One of those rituals was the Water Communion. At a women’s gathering, attendees [brought] water from a place that was spiritually significant to them. During the service, each person [shared] why the water was spiritually significant for them. Then they poured some of their water into a communal bowl to signify that all things are connected, including our yearnings, our love, even our suffering.

“The Water Communion has been adopted by most Unitarian Universalist churches. . . celebrated at the beginning of the church year. [But] over time, the Water Communion developed into a travelogue. . . The service became more like a show and tell of where we went for the summer. The service became less spiritual and more classist because it held up who had the means to have the most spectacular vacation. . . Then as now, some of our members . . .can’t afford expensive traveling vacations. [The ceremony] was experienced as a ritual that divided more than it unified.

“In congregations across North America, ministers and lay people have been revising the Water Communion to . . . to reverence the natural world and our interconnectedness with it and each other. The Water Communion has been transformed back to a simple ritual that holds up our radical interdependence, our embodiment of the sacred, and our responsibility to care for each other and the earth.”

At UUFG on September 3, people of all ages will celebrate the ways in which water helps in our renewal, calls us to justice, and connects our hearts with those who have gone before. I look forward to sharing this ritual with you all.

Rev. Maureen

*Rev. Krista Taves serves the Unitarian Congregation in Quincy, IL, for which her column was written. The column is used by permission and has been edited here slightly for length.

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