We are frequently asked if Unitarian Universalists have “sacraments” as many other faiths do. In keeping with our belief in the “prophet hood of all believers” we do not have sacraments, per se, where a clergyperson acts as a conduit to a sacred experience. We do, however, have several recurring rituals which are joyful celebrations of this community’s life together.
Mingling of the Waters
At the beginning of each program year in September, we gather in a single service for all ages and share a much-appreciated ritual that honors the diversity of experiences we have enjoyed in the preceding summer months. We always leave this service with joy and gratitude for the beloved community that is ours.
Annually we celebrate the darkness and the promise of the Winter Solstice. Included in this service is time for silence as well as time for joyful noise.
Christmas Eve: December 24
Our traditional family Christmas Eve services celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth. All services include traditional readings, carols, and candle-lighting.
Turning of the Year
At the first weekend of the New Year, it is our tradition to celebrate the major life-changing events of the previous year by lighting candles and naming those who experienced one of these major life transitions:
Births/adoptions/foster children entering the home
Death of a loved one
Other significant transitions
We hold an annual Flower Communion service each spring. This celebration was originated in 1923 by Dr. Norbert Capek, founder of the modern Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia. As they did in Prague, we participate in this colorful ritual by exchanging flowers with one another, giving concrete expression to the humanity-affirming principles of our liberal faith.
We are also hallowing 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 beauty of every human 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 during a Nazi “medical experiment.” This gentle man suffered a cruel death, but his message of human hope and decency lives on through his Flower Communion, which is widely celebrated among Unitarian Universalists today. It is a noble and meaning-filled ritual, which helps us remember the principles and dreams for which he died.
Non-Member Rites of Passage During COVID
At this time, the Fellowship is not renting or offering physical space for any rites of passage. While our ministry team is typically unable to accommodate virtual officiant requests for non-members of the congregation, you are welcome to contact our office to inquire. We are happy to offer a listening ear and can sometimes make referrals.
Member and Friends Rites of Passage During COVID
We know that even as the pandemic transforms daily rhythms, life itself continues. The Fellowship has long been a place where we mark the coming of babies, the passing from life of loved ones, weddings, and other rituals and ceremonies. By now, we all know that this has changed. We are not currently holding in person weddings, home blessings, or other rites of passage.
As we’ve shared before, we have grief kits available to you if face grieving the death of Loved Ones. They contain some items to help create meaningful space for sorrow, as well the outline for simple home ritual of sorrow and loss.
We are also prepared to virtually mourn the loss and celebrate the lives of any among us who might die during times of physical distance. Our Zoom format that can be adapted for an intimate invitation-only gathering or large public service. It can include special music from our own music director Steve Sieck and others; commemorative paper orders of service we can mail for you to keep or distribute; time for participants to share stories and memories; breakout rooms for personal connections; and other elements.
Depending on local infection rates, weather forecasts, and personal safety concerns of the minister(s), we might be able to accommodate physically distanced in person memorial services. These would likely be very brief, have ten or fewer participants, and not include live music or multiple speaking roles.
We hope that spelling out these restrictions is helpful, even though it can be discouraging to dwell on limitations. May it encourage us to continue marking meaningful life moments in creative and communal ways. We are still a people where milestones are cherished and honored! Please be in touch with any member of the ministry team if and when you’re ready to plan.
Link to legal forms on ThedaCare’s website HERE. A link to the current Advance Directive including Power of Attorney for Healthcare can be found on the page.