UU Trivia Question of the Day #45

Time to consider Unitarian-Universalism ritualism again in greater depth.  There are many ceremonies that are performed annually or more often by UU churches, either ones shared with other denominations (such as Communion) or more generally UU (or at least liberal) in nature, such as water communion.  One ceremony has particularly captured the hearts of UU congregations, such that approximately eighty-eight percent perform it at least once a year.

What is this ritual?

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2 Comments

Filed under Liberal Religious History, Unitarian-Universalism

2 responses to “UU Trivia Question of the Day #45

  1. Widdy

    I’m going to guess it’s “Flower Communion” – which my congregation celebrated together yesterday.

  2. While I am pretty sure Flower Communion is the ritual you are looking for, I don’t believe it is the most wide-spread. For that we have to turn to something so simple and familiar that it hardly seems like a ritual—Lighting the Chalice. This is now practiced by almost all member congregations of the UUA and has spread to Unitarian churches world wide. Its origins date to the mid-fifties when a handful of Unitarian congregations adopted the logo of the Service Committee and began lighting a candle in a cup with a reading at the beginning of services. It began to pick-up steam after the consolidation with the Universalists as the new denomination struggled to find its own identity.

    Chalice lighting was at first popular among Humanist congregations looking for non-Christian forms. For just that reason, it was long resisted in many of the more traditional, Chrisitian oriented churches, particularly in New England but including such influential congregations as Eliot Chapel in St. Louis.

    The flaming chalice logo appeared informally in a regional Mid-West newsletter as early as 1962, but did not become adopted as an official symbol of the denomination until years later fueled by the wide spread adoption of the ritual opening of so many services.

    Ironically, as more congregations began to yearn for more “spirituality” and chalice lightings took on greater ritual significance and often seemed “prayer like,” some resistance came from Humanists who began to suspect it as the camel’s nose under the tent of “mystic-tristic bullsh*t.”

    What ever bumps toward acceptance there may once have been this simple, almost Spartan ritual is now virtually universal.

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