Back to Church: Water Ceremony Ritual

Dakota UU started the tradition of the Water Ceremony Ritual to be generally held on the first Sunday we come back to church in the fall. It is almost sacramental for us to embrace the start of yet another year together. This year, Pastor Bryan will be speaking about the traditional symbolic importance of both water and baptism, and what this ritual can mean for us as we embark on a journey of revisioning who we are as a congregation as well as our mission and vision for the future. You are invited to bring a small amount of water to share, and if you want to participate in the traditional colors of the day, feel free to wear something white, but that is certainly not required. AND – warning: there may be tiny sprinkles of water during this service as we are all “anointed” together as a faith family moving forward into the 21st Century and beyond.

For a history of the original water ceremony in Unitarian Universalism – this excerpt is taken rom the UUA.ORG website: In 1980, two Unitarian Universalist women—Carolyn McDade and Lucile Schuck Longview—were asked to create a worship service for the Women and Religion Continental Convocation of Unitarian Universalists. As they shaped that service, McDade and Longview wanted to create a new ritual “that spoke to our connectedness to one another, to the totality of life, and to our place on this planet.” They included a new, inclusive symbol of women’s spirituality: water. They write, “Water is more than simply a metaphor. It is elemental and primary, calling forth feelings of awe and reverence. Acknowledging that the ocean is considered by many to be the place from which all life on our planet came—it is the womb of life—and that amniotic waters surround each of us prenatally, we now realize that [this worship service] was for us a new story of creation… We choose water as our symbol of our empowerment.” The November service, held in East Lansing, Michigan, was called “Coming Home Like Rivers to the Sea.” As its creators, McDade and Longview enacted their ritual in the liberating space of a semicircle around a large earthenware bowl. They asked eight different women—each coming from distant places—to bring water, and they did: water from the Rio Grande and Assiniboine Rivers, rain water from Maryland, water from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and others were poured into the earthenware bowl as each bearer described its significance. “As the ritual is continued,” says Carolyn McDade, “water deepens in meaning for us, just as water deepens during its long and winding journey to the sea.”

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