Looking at a typical Order of Service should give you a sense of what our Sunday Services are like. On the surface, it looks much like a typical church service, but if you are new to Unitarian Universalism, you will find it to be a very different experience. In keeping with our seven principles, readings and sermons may draw heavily on multiple religious sources, be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Native American. Many sermons will touch on distinctly humanistic themes and the idea that religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. What you won’t hear is a creed or statement of beliefs to which we all adhere.
Our services always begin with the ringing of the Paul Revere Bell and the lighting of the chalice, and we often recite our covenant. Music is always part of the service, whether it comes from our Adult and Children’s Choirs, the First Parish Singers, or frequent guest performers. There is usual time for people to share their joys and concerns. Typically, one or two readings set the stage for a sermon by Rev. Catie Scudera, a guest minister, or a lay member of the congregation. After the service, just about everyone goes to Parish Hall for Social Hour.
Some other important services or parts of services include:
Candles of Joy and Concern – On many Sundays, the minister invites us to come forward, light a candle, introduce ourselves, and speak briefly about any joys or concerns that we wish to share with the congregation.
Special Sundays – Certain Sunday mornings have special significance for us. These include:
- In-gathering – We gather to begin a new church year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. The In-Gathering includes a UU ritual known as the water communion, where we bring water collected from places of note, spiritual or otherwise, and mix it with the waters brought by others.
- Religious and cultural holidays – On Sundays around the time of the Jewish high holidays or other important cultural holidays such as Cinco de Mayo, our services frequently incorporate elements of the traditional observance or themes related to the holiday.
- Festival of Lights – A Unitarian Universalist celebration of the seasonal holidays of winter, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and others.
- Youth Sunday – A service developed and put on by our Youth Group.
- Coming of Age – The culmination of the traditional Unitarian Universalist rite of passage of eighth-graders into adulthood.
- Flower Communion – The last Sunday before summer season, where we celebrate a uniquely Unitarian Universalist form of communion. We bring flowers from our yard or some other favorite spot, and we go home with someone else’s flowers.