Coming of Age
As a person comes "of age," this new stage of life is characterized by closer examination of values and beliefs and by making choices about religious and social commitments. Our Coming of Age program celebrates this transition while guiding our young people as they embark on their journey into young adulthood. To help with this guidance, the program matches each participant with an adult mentor. Through a series of social and paired activities, the youth explore their developing religious principles, bond with members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, and connect with Unitarian Universalists denomination-wide. The Coming of Age program culminates in a Rite of Passage Ceremony at an Intergenerational Sunday Service in late May. After a year’s journey, part passage and part pilgrimage, these adolescents are prepared to share their insights and to articulate their faith.
Child Dedications are a uniquely Unitarian Universalist ceremony of naming, which offers parents the opportunity to present their children to the congregation. This ceremony celebrates the ongoing mystery of human life, welcomes the child into our religious community and publicly affirms the responsibility of the parents and the entire congregation to help the child grow in the way of love, truth, justice and peace.
Water Communion Service
This is a symbol of spirituality and an inclusive symbol. This ritual speaks to our connectedness to one another and to our place on this planet. We cannot survive without water, nor flourish without tending to the spirit of community that flows around and through us all. Because we tend to travel during the summer, we schedule our Water Communion Service in early September to mark the beginning of the cooler seasons and a return to our Fellowship. Members gather a small quantity of water from wherever they go during the summer as a reminder of where they went and that they carried their UU connection there with them. They then bring that water to the Water Communion Service to pour into a common bowl and briefly tell where the water came from and how it represents a connection to UU and the fellowship. At the end of the service, a small amount of the commingled water—now representing the commingled lives of the Fellowship—is reserved for use on occasions such as child dedications and weddings.
Flower Communion Service
Held in spring, the Flower Communion service was created by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He turned to the native beauty of the countryside for elements of a communion that would be genuine. For the flower communion service, people are asked to bring a flower of their choice, either from their own gardens or from a field or roadside. The vase that contains all the flowers is a symbol of the united church fellowship. After the service, each person takes a flower from the vase other than the one that he or she brought. The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together, the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. Our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community—it would not be the same without each and every one of us. This service is a statement of our community. By exchanging flowers, we show our willingness to walk together in our search for truth, disregarding all that might divide us. Each person takes home a flower brought by someone else, symbolizing our shared celebration in community. This communion of sharing is essential to a free people of a free religion.
On Earth Day, or the nearest Sunday, our Intergenerational Service is attended not only by children and parents, but also by our pets. This Service helps us remember the web of life that connects us all.