Rituals & Ceremonies

Life Passages

Unitarian Universalists mark important life passages -- welcoming a new child, celebrating committed relationships, and honoring the lives of the departed - within our faith community.

Typically babies or children are welcomed into the community in a dedication service where parents and the congregation commit to teach and model the principles of our faith. In accordance with our beliefs, each ceremony is tailored to match the family's spiritual values and hopes for the child.

As UU's we recognize and celebrate the life commitments that couples make -- whether as man and woman or same sex couples --- and we look forward to the time when those commitments are recognized by the state as well.

Although Open Circle does not have a full time minister, we can assist persons who wish to have a clergy person officiate a special life passage.

Unitarian Universalist Rituals

While Unitarian Universalists do not observe sacraments where a clergy person acts as a conduit to a sacred experience, we do have two special rituals, Mingling of the Waters and Flower Communion, which hold special meaning for our life together as a faith community.

Mingling of the Waters (sometimes called Water Communion) typically starts our program year in September. Each participant is invited to bring a small amount of water collected from a place they have visited over the summer (or since the previous mingling of waters) and to tell briefly about the place from which the water came and to share some experience associated with the place. These small amounts of water come from near and far. Sometimes people have traveled far and bring water from China or Africa or Tibet, or water can come from a child's backyard inflatable pool. As the water is mingled in a large bowl, it reminds us of the many ways our lives are intertwined, not only with those within our Open Circle Fellowship or the community where we live, but truly intertwined with the lives of people throughout the world.

In the Flower Communion, which is held each spring, each person is asked to bring a single flower to the service. The flowers are brought together to create a big beautiful bouquet and at the end of the service each person takes a new flower. This ritual reminds us of the diverse gifts and talents each person has. We also see that just as distinct flowers make a bouquet that is more beautiful than any single flower, we can do more together in community than any of us can do alone. Finally, we leave, knowing we are changed and strengthened by our coming together.

The Flower Communion ritual was originated in 1923 by Dr. Norbert Capek, founder of the modern Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia. Thus the Flower Communion also honors the memory of one of the martyrs of our faith. When the Nazis took control of Prague in 1940, they found Dr. Capek's gospel of the inherent worth and dignity of every person to be, as Nazi court records show - "…too dangerous to the Reich (for him) to be allowed to live." Dr. Capek was sent to Dachau, where he was killed the next year in a Nazi "medical experiment." This gentle man suffered a cruel death, but his message of human hope and dignity lives on in the beautiful Flower Communion, which is widely celebrated among Unitarian Universalists today.

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