General Assembly 2014 Event 273
We gather together across generations to tend our fires so that we may shine light out into our communities. Rejoice in the spark found in everyone, and celebrate the young leaders who illuminate the way forward for our faith as they transition into adulthood. Let the light of love shine!
Pre-service Music: Hymn Mash-up: Come, Come Whoever You Are/I Know This Rose/Yonder Come Day
Welcome/ Opening Reading
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Welcome to the synergy worship service. Let our light shine. We are so glad to see you here today.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: What does synergy mean?
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Funny you should ask, Christopher. I'm not quite sure.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Hmm. Too bad there's not some wise, all-knowing being we could find to ask such a question.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: What, haven't you heard of Google?
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Google. Of course. Let's check right now. Ah. Here it is. Synergy is the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: And that's why we're so glad to see you all here today. Each one of you brings a light that makes us better together.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: That's right. Together we can support each other to turn outward and shine light into our communities. Our service this evening focuses on helping that light shine through the transition our youth, like me, are making into adulthood. But it is also a theme that resonates at all points in our lives. Join us in celebration of the light shining from within all of us.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Welcome. And let the light of love shine. Please join us in speaking together as we light our chalice.
ALL: At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: We gather together to tend our fires because one candle in the wind can feel so small in the world's darkness, a little light in a great night. We gather together to tend our fires because like a sky full of twinkling stars, just to be alive in good company makes us joyful, humble, and strong. So stoke the fires bright, outward, onward. We shine our light, reaching out to warm chilled bones. And to shed our tears with the mourners, outward, onward. We shine our light, flames licking the complacent, exposing dark places when others would turn away. With strong hearts and open eyes, we gather together to attend our fires because love reaches out. So the inner light becomes the outer, as we lift each candle to the wind.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Please join me in song. This is one we will learn now and sing through the chorus later as part of our story. The words to the chorus are, "hold your candle to the wind. Let it blow, let it bend. Hold your a candle to the wind. Let it blow, let it bend. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Music: “Hold Your Candle to the Wind”
Story Part I
LANE CAMPBELL: Let our lights shine, my friends. This evening we're going to explore this theme through a story. So gather around and get comfortable as we begin this story the same way so many others have begun.
Once upon a time, in a town not so very far from here and not so very long ago, it was bitter cold. Hard to imagine on a sunny day like today, isn't it? But this town was bitter cold. It was cold in the winter, and it was even cold in the summer. And when the days grew longer in most places, the town stayed pretty dark. The sun only shone for a few hours a day.
As you could imagine, the people of this town were not a happy bunch. Pretty gloomy, really. Most of them kept to themselves. When they went outside, they wrapped themselves in large winter coats, so large it was hard to see who was inside. So people kept to themselves and didn't talk to each other very often. They stayed at home and lit fires in their own fireplaces, huddling close to the fire and worrying only about keeping themselves warm.
Then one day, she arrived. A woman the people in this town had never seen before. She walked into the center of town and stood there. Just stood there. The people of this town continued about their business, wrapped up in their thick coats, scurrying from here to there. When people got back to their homes, they talked with their families.
SPEAKER1: Did you see her out there?
SPEAKER2: Who is she?
SPEAKER3: Where did she come from?
SPEAKER2: She going to freeze out there if she doesn't find a way to get warm.
SPEAKER1: Well, that's her business. It's none of my business if a stranger is cold. I have enough to worry about keeping my own family warm.
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: It's hard to keep our own fires going. In our own lives, we have a lot going on. We have work or school, family responsibilities, chores, sports. It's a lot. We've got so much going on in our lives, it's easy to just want to hunker down into our homes with the people we know best and to focus only on our own needs. These days, more and more people don't know their neighbors. People don't even talk to each other. How many of you have seen people on their phones or with their ear buds in on the train or the plane or in the gym as a way to avoid conversation?
These are the modern equivalents of the giant winter coats from our story. They're a way to say, don't talk to me. Leave me alone. Now, it's fine to feel that way sometimes. We all need alone time. But when that becomes the norm, it can be very isolating. We run the risk of thinking only about ourselves, our own needs, our own concerns. We become the center of our own little universe. And that can be dangerous.
To make matters worse, our society encourages this super-individualism with personalized coffee and custom-tailored Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards and i-everythings. Who needs to step outside their comfort zone? Our friends in the story found themselves feeling just this way in their very cold village. They're busy tending to their own fires in their own homes. They don't have time to worry about other people. Who cares why that weird lady is out there? It's none of our business. Seems like a pretty gloomy way to live.
We'll come back to the story in a little while. We'll have to wait and see if things get warmer there. But first, some poetry that sure to heat things up.
Slam Poetry: “An Open Letter to Those Bridging"
DYLAN DEBELIS: Let's play a game. I say, remember. Y'all repeat back to me, remember. Remember.
DYLAN DEBELIS: That was all right. I know we just ate. We can do better. Remember.
DYLAN DEBELIS: One more time. Remember.
DYLAN DEBELIS: An open letter to those bridging tonight. I see y'all.
DYLAN DEBELIS: When you pull up your final anchors and drag the last loose ends and cast nets into port. When you take stock of your damaged hulls, heal the wounds worth tending to, and hastily patch your sails with well-worn band T-shirts and friendship bracelet twine. When you muster up the courage to finally give the signal, to finally let the lighthouse keepers rest. When you set sail, for the love of God, remember to breathe. Remember.
DYLAN DEBELIS: This twin-sized bed you have slept in for 14 years or so will not forget your shoulders' shape. This doorstep that bore witness to your lips' first kiss will not forget your body's weight. And those fingers that have fed you since you were a baby will not forget how to trace the creases in your cheeks or how to feel your forehead for fevers when you're feeling a bit off. Remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: --to breathe. When that harbor drifts behind you and the wind picks up and pulls you, and your arms are thrown out in celebration to greet the coming of a new day in a new city where a new moon sets new rhythms for its tides, remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: --to breathe. When the waves collapse across your bow and the compass needle suddenly spins a little too fast for you to take note of its measurements. When those floorboards creak like murder mysteries, and the skeletons you thought you had kept in storage crawl out from your dorm room closets, remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: This awkward body that you have courted all your life, this imperfect shadow that you have spread on the corners of countless convenience stores and awkward middle school dances, the lungs and the hearts and the muscles that have spoke to you in bizarre pubescent tongues. None of them will leave you. They will be with you as you watch out for those low-hanging bridges. For high blood alcohol content—maybe, some of you, don't do it. For God, hiding in the unexpected.
They will be with you as you keep your eyes peeled for the smiles hiding in the overgrowth, for the subtle shifts in the previously locked tectonic plates, for those keys to drill into your chest and pluck open your heart strings, and for chances to strip the chastity belt off your vocal cords and let your spirit to sing. Shhh. Listen. Come in close. Do you remember your first step into the Atlantic Ocean, the way that you dipped your toe to test the temperature. And it generated ripples. And those ripples, they spread infinitely outward. And they mingled with the waves. Remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: --this moment. As you dip your calf into the water, and then your thigh, and then you wade in up to your waist. And then you swim out into the water while the lighthouse keepers rest. Remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: --this moment. This apprehension to begin again. This annoyance at this GA, at these parents who always seem to walk too slow or talk too much. This gratitude to a community that holds you no matter what. The strive to change the world. May this moment be your touchstone. May this blessing live within you. And may you go forth into a future that pulls you towards love, joy, and justice. But besides all of that, remember—
DYLAN DEBELIS: --for the love of God, breathe.
Story Part II
LANE CAMPBELL: We return back to our story. A while later, it was one of the youth in the town who approached the stranger.
YOUTH: Hello. Who are you? Where did you come from?
GRETA: Hi, I'm—I'm Greta. I've traveled many miles to be here. I come from the land—it's far, far away from here. Your town, it's beautiful.
LANE CAMPBELL: The youth was surprised. She had never thought of this town as particularly beautiful, just cold and mostly dark.
YOUTH: Aren't you cold?
GRETA: Of course I am, it's freezing here. Aren't you freezing? Freezing. It's cold. Shall we build a fire together? Maybe right here?
YOUTH: In this town, we never build fires outside. We always keep them inside. It's better to keep the warm in that way. Would you like to come back to our house and share the fire there?
GRETA: No. Thank you. I—I'd rather stay here and admire the beauty of your town.
LANE CAMPBELL: And then she pulled firm her thick winter jacket a flimsy pack of matches.
GRETA: I only have these. They're not very good. Do you, perhaps, have something better to start a fire?
LANE CAMPBELL: It just so happened that this youth had in their home a beautiful matchbox, gilded with sturdy—with gold, with sturdy matches inside that their grandmother had made by hand. She went home, and then brought them out to this stranger. When she brought them out, the stranger smiled such a big smile. You could see it through her thick hood.
GRETA: These are beautiful. Your grandmother has done a spectacular job with these matches.
LANE CAMPBELL: And then they both realized they had a problem. There were matches, but no wood to light and no place to make a fire. This youth knew just the person for the firewood. She went to the shopkeeper in town who sold wood each family.
Now this shopkeeper had many different kinds of wood from the surrounding forests. He listened to the story this youth told. He wasn't sure this was best idea. Everyone made fires in their own homes. They didn't need this huge fire in the middle of town. It would be wasteful.
SHOPKEEPER: Well, you know, since I have known you since you were a small child in this town, I do have this pile of wood over here that I was just going to throw away. I guess I'd be glad to let you have it if you'd like.
LANE CAMPBELL: See, the shopkeeper had seen this youth grow up from a very small child. He had a warm spot in his heart for the youth. And besides he had just the perfect firewood. It caught fire quickly and burned strong, so the wind outside would not blow it out. The wood burned so strongly, he had not sold any of it, because it was too warm to burn in houses. To be honest, he had been ready to throw it out, as the wood was of no use to the shopkeeper if it could not be sold.
He gave the youth this wood. Besides, he was curious to see what it would look like to build a fire in the center of town. The youth and Greta built a tower of wood for a fire, and as they begin to build this fire they began to sing. Christopher, can you remind me what they started to sing?
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Well, Lane, they sang a song that might be familiar to us all, as we heard it earlier. And I hope you'll join me in singing the chorus.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: As people join in building the fire, we'll sing it again. Greta and the youth began to build this fire and they sang "Hold Your Candle to the Wind."
LANE CAMPBELL: After hearing all the singing that was going on, one of the women in the town stopped to help them. SPEAKER2: you need some help?
LANE CAMPBELL: Like the shop keeper, she wasn't so sure about this idea. But without her help, she worried that Greta and the youth would freeze working outside for hours. She was strong and had built many fires in her own home. She brought her knowledge and skill to the building of this fire. And it turned out, she had a wonderful voice to add to the singing as well.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: So she joined them in singing, too. Will you sing the chorus to "Let It Shine" with us again?
LANE CAMPBELL: As they were finishing up laying this giant tower of wood, a builder stopped by to ask what the group was up to. Once they explained about the fire, the builder's face lit up.
BUILDER: I have some handmade bricks at home, left over from when we built the house. They're in the basement gathering dust. We could bring them out and build a small wall to keep the wind from blowing out the fire and help keep people safe.
LANE CAMPBELL: The group of four thanked this person. Yes! Those bricks would be so helpful. Soon the builder's entire family came out with a wheelbarrow full of bricks. Each person began to help build a circular wall around the tower of wood. The wall was perfect. Low enough to feel the warmth of the fire and yet high enough to keep everyone safe and warm. As they stacked bricks, each person joined the chorus, making the song stronger and louder. Christopher, would you help us sing it again?
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Just like in the story, we need all your voices to join in. Join us in singing.
LANE CAMPBELL: It was finally time to light the fire. Many people from the town were gathered around now. They had stopped to see what they were doing, to see what was going on in the middle of town. To see what all the commotion and the singing was about. The youth struck a match to light some of the wood, but the wood wouldn't catch.
The youth tried again. But no luck. She started to worry that she would waste all her matches and the effort of building this fire would go entirely to waste. Just then, a small child came forward with a handful of rags, bits of cotton, wool, and linen collected from old winter coats. That was just what they needed to get the fire lit. And soon the fire spread from the lint to the wood, slowly at first and building until all of the wood caught fire.
By this time, the entire town had come out to witness this amazing blaze in the middle of their community. And then a funny thing happened. Something that had never happened in this town before. People began getting warm. They got so warm and comfortable that some of them began removing their hoods. For the first time, people saw the faces of their neighbors outside. They recognized who was bringing wood for the fire and who is sitting by the side of the fire making sure it burned. People brought food and drink from their houses—tea and bread and soup. They all came together in the center of town and joined in the singing. And Christopher was there to help them.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: I know many of us know it well by now. Let's welcome new people who have come here to warm themselves by the fire. Each one of us has gifts to bring here. Let's continue to hold our candles to the wind, join with the group in singing.
LANE CAMPBELL: So many people were bringing forward gifts to keep the fire going. And the community gathered. Gifts they didn't see as gifts, because they were just what folks had lying around the house. By now, the tea was what was keeping people warm. The matches are what started the fire that got everyone together. The wood was what kept the fire going. And the bricks surrounding the fire kept the fire from blowing out while also keeping everyone safe . And even the littlest child had contributed something—the lint that allowed the fire to catch. What gifts this town had. And what a beautiful fire they had made together.
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: So, you know this story, right? Usually when we hear this story, it's about soup. A special rock that gets things going, and everyone has something to contribute. Right? We know this. Here in our story village, Greta has used the same tactic to help the villagers come out of their houses to build a common fire in the center of town. Not that long ago, the villagers had felt like they couldn't possibly worry about other people. They were too busy tending the fires in their own homes. These people are now sharing, supporting one another, and enjoying the company of neighbors. And it didn't take too much sacrifice on their part. In fact, it seems like all the gifts that they had to share they didn't even realize were gifts at all.
Our Unitarian Universalist communities are much like this bonfire. People don't even realize what they're missing until they warm themselves at the fire of this faith. I'm busy. I've got enough going on at home. I don't have time for church. But we know that each of us brings our gifts, whether we are elders, or children, or adults, youth, or young adults. It doesn't take too much from any one of us alone. And while we share our gifts, while we warm ourselves in our bright beloved communities together, we get to sing.
And don't forget the tea. We get to drink tea. Or coffee. Who're we kidding? We drink coffee. And what's not to love about that? What a great thing we have going. Communities of faith and warmth and light and justice, filled with people bringing their gifts to share and making something bigger than themselves. With singing. And coffee. And so our villagers have made their bonfire.
Each of you here is a part of this larger Unitarian Universalist faith. And we know that you have helped build fires in your own homes, in your own cities and towns. Congregations and communities of love and hope and justice. Think for a moment. Think for a moment about those congregations, those communities that you represent. Those fires that continue to burn back home while you are here. Imagine the faces of the people who gather there, the space that you hold dear, the work that you cherish.
Hold those fires, those congregations or communities in your heart for a moment. Bring them into this space. And while we sing our next song, we will invite our youth bridgers up to the stage, each of them a beautiful flame from the bonfires of their home communities.
GUITAR PLAYER: I invite you to rise as you're willing and able for this one.
Music: “This Little Light Of Mine”
Story Continues with You! (Includes “Central Message”)
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: We left our village at the end of the story with their beautiful bonfire blazing, the gifts from the villagers, young and old together, creating a place for everyone to come for warmth. Just like our home congregations and communities, this bonfire is something bigger, and stronger, and more powerful than any one of us could have made alone. Beautiful story. The end. [LAUGHTER] Happily ever after. Right?
But I wonder. I wonder what happens next, after that happily ever after. I wonder how the fire continues to burn. Who tends it? I imagine there will probably be a lot of people who put a lot of time and energy into tending that fire while others probably just warm themselves near it. And then those who have been tending will need a break, and others will step up and take a turn. I hope. That's the best way to tend a fire. It doesn't work if only some people do all of the work. We have to take turns. Amen. So we all get a chance to rest once in awhile.
Now as they are all gathered around enjoying the warmth, singing songs, sipping tea—coffee. Someone realizes something important. Not everyone is there at the bonfire. Some of the village elders can't make it out into the cold to enjoy the fire. Their joints get too achy in the cold. The couple down the lane with the young baby is also not there. It's tough to come out when the baby still can't sleep through the night. And there are others, too, who haven't made it to the fire. Friends serving in the military or the Peace Corps, those away at college, neighbors who are struggling with illness or addiction.
What happens now? Everyone is so consumed with keeping the fire going, warming themselves by the fire, no one wants to leave it. I wonder if the original problem will repeat itself. Will someone say, we've got enough going on here at the bonfire to worry about those people out there? Maybe. Probably. Just like before, when people believed they had too much going on to worry about anything outside their own homes, it's easy to feel that way in our congregations. We have enough to worry about. The sanctuary needs a new roof, the Sunday School needs more music supplies, we never have enough people signed up to usher. We can't be worrying about those people out there.
Now I have to say, if the choice is between small individual fires in individual homes and a big bonfire in the center of town, I choose bonfire. Amen?
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: Amen. But the choice is bigger than that. We can have a big bonfire in the center of town and take the fire to those who cannot come join the fun. It's not either-or. It's both-and. It's not a choice between congregations or changing the world. It's about creating both meaningful congregational life and spreading Unitarian Universalism beyond our walls and throughout the world. It's about congregations and beyond.
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: It's about love reaching in and out. Our congregations are like that bonfire in the center of town, beautiful, bold places filled with warmth and light. We worked hard to build those fires. People who came before us gave their gifts and tended the flames. And people who came after them continued to tend it, to grow it, allowing generations to warm themselves with ritual, and friendship, and song, and coffee. Right.
These young people here, they came up from these bonfires. They each have a specific Unitarian Universalist community that they call home. And for them, it is important that we keep those fires burning big and bright as they bridge from youth to young adulthood. As they venture forth into the world and make a path for themselves, they need to have their home bonfires to return to.
But keeping the fire going for ourselves is not enough. It is our job to spread the light, to let our candles blow and bend in the wind and spread beyond ourselves. To let our little lights shine. To new places, to dark corners. To bring warmth and light.
So let's go back to our story. Let's go back to a moment, to our village. Let's imagine that youth, the one who with Greta helped start the whole thing going. Let's imagine that that youth says, this fire we've got going is great. And I'm planning on moving soon. I'm finishing high school, and I have new places to explore. I'd like to bring some light with me.
The people grow nervous. Murmurs rumble through the crowd. Take it with her? But we need the fire here. What's going to happen to the fire if everyone starts taking bits and pieces of it?
Greta calms the crowd gently. "Friends, friends. Let's test this concern with an experiment. Does anyone have a candle?" Someone brings up a candle. Now Greta says, "I hear that you were worried the bonfire might diminish if we share it with the youth as she goes off on her journey." Nods and mumbling rumbles through the crowd. "So let's see what happens if we light this candle off the fire."
And with that, she dips the candle into the big flame and withdraws it. The bonfire continues to blaze brightly. And now a new light, the candle, lit from the original flame. "Hmm," says Greta. "It looks like our fire only grew bigger, not smaller. We needn't worry about losing our flame here. Sharing it will only help it grow."
And so the villagers gather torches, and lanterns, and candles, lighting them from the central bonfire that they had worked so hard to build. They pass them out to each of the youth who are preparing to go into the world, and they took them to the homes of the elderly, the sick, those with young children, and those who had never even heard the good news of the bonfire before.
The bonfire didn't get smaller after all. Right Greta was right. The flames carried out into the world began new fires, some small and intimate, some large and blazing. And when the candles burned low, they could return again to the bonfire to warm themselves and to relight their flames before going back out into the world. May it be so. And amen.
Music: “Give Me Oil in my Lamp,” adapted
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Take a deep breath with me to center ourselves in as we join together to bear witness to this rite of passage and the heart of our service this evening.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Please join us in singing our words of affirmation. Shine, shine, shine. Try it with me.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: In the hearts of each one of us, young and old, there is a fire burning.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Glowing and shining with inner wisdom, truth, justice, and purpose.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: We have tended the fires of our youth as a congregation, nurturing them and providing them with the tools to grow and learn.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Now as we come together for this bridging, we pass along these glow sticks.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: That you will shine forth into the world and to let your brilliant flame illuminate every corner,
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: And with these chalice necklaces, we entrust you with the continuity of our sacred community. We entrust you to bring your many stories and identities forward with you as you carry on the light of our sacred tradition.
ALL: Shine, shine, shine.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Let us begin. We invite you to come forward and to speak your name into the microphone. And then we ask you to go out into this gather group of folks, to go out and to let your light shine.
BOTH: Let us begin bridging.
Ethan Russell Benoit, First Parish, Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Tia Patel, First Parish, Brewster.
Mina Calvo, First Parish, Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Rose Cronin Jackman, First Parish, Brewster.
Rista Paulo, First Parish, Brewster.
Jennifer Sanders, First Parish, Taunton.
Shaunie Powers, 1st Parish, Brewster.
Robert King, Live Oak, Austin, Texas.
Kendra Cross, Eliot Chapel, Saint Louis, Missouri.
Tracy Siloway, All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Keridwen Spiller, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas.
Erin Sullivan, Live Oak UU Church in Cedar Park, Texas.
Corey Compton, Eliot Chapel, Saint Louis, Missouri.
Eric Ditmar, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Texas.
Sam Stevens, also All Souls UU Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Louis Braincottie, from West Side Unitarian in Seattle, Washington.
Christina Rico, First Parish, Brewster.
Lucy Johns, Unitarian Church of Sharon, Sharon, Mass.
Ben Gaffogan, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland.
Victoria Zikovich, First Unitarian, Providence, Rhode Island.
Gary Reed, Unitarian Church of Sharon.
Rosemary Dean, First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island.
Owen Hilsbeck, Tacoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tacoma, Washington.
Susan Mays, The UU Church of Western Massachusetts.
Yvonne Markou, Unitarian Church of Sharon, Sharon, Massachusetts.
Connie Davis Hugo, Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach, California.
Abby Hauling, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart, Indiana.
Phoebe Masterson, Eckhart First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, California.
Rosemary Dodd, Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma, California.
Erica Tigh, First Parish UU Church of Arlington, Massachusetts.
Hi, I'm Audrey Carlton, from the UU Congregation of Rockville, Maryland.
John Heflin, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, Maryland.
Barrett Smith, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, Maryland.
Luke Job, of Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Greenville, South Carolina.
Abigail Merrick, of First Unitarian Church of Wilmington, Delaware.
Henry Hennin, First Religious Society of Carlysle, Massachusetts.
Molly Vijaunt, Unitarian Universalist Society, Eastern Manchester, Connecticut.
Sarah Tory, UU Society, Eastern Manchester, Connecticut.
Tara Dorgan, The Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Princeton, New Jersey.
Zoey Brookman, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, Princeton, New Jersey.
Rebecca Raydo, Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Anna Brewer, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, Albany, New York.
Eliot Valley, First Parish, Needham, Massachusetts.
Claire Rothfelder, the Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey.
Aloysius Gercka, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhorn.
My name is Oliver Evans, I've come from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, Ohio.
Julia Vity, Unitarian church in Summit, New Jersey.
Kendra Sweitzer, the Unitarian Congregation of Westchester, Pennsylvania.
Sam Spiro, Unitarian Universalist First Parish in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Katie Rigden, Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Carter Smith, Community Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Lily Tupper, First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, Maine.
Emily Parker, First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Robert Ericson, UU Church of Worcester.
Tanya Smith, UU Church of Worcester.
Andrew Curry, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, Florida.
Ellie Brown, UU Fellowship of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Valerie Wood, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Morgan Medvedz, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Rosalie Wendell, Mainline Unitarian Universalist Church, Devon, Pennsylvania.
Alexandria Boutrose, Birmingham Unitarian Universalist Church, Birmingham, Michigan.
Baron Elshocks, of the Unitarian Universalist Society East.
Dan Hellen, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont.
Alex Edmondson, of Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Michael Costello, First Unitarian Society of Newton, Massachusetts.
Hannah Peters, First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, Maine.
Dara Guyald, of First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, Maine.
Olivia Shchoeboe-Elizinga, University Unitarian Church of Seattle, Washington.
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: Young adults, that's you. As you go into the world—
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: Yes. Yes!
REV. CHRISTINA LEONE TRACY: Young adults, as you go into the world, let your lights shine. Let's see them. Shine into the darkness, warm the cold corners of the world. You are entrusted with a sacred light. This light has burned in many ways and in many places, carried forward by Francis David and Michael Survedis, Jose Balloo, and Clara Barton. Theodore Parker and William Ellery Channing, Ethel Red Brown and Francis Ellen Watkins Harper. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Olympia Brown. Sophia Faus and Peter Morales. To you, young leaders.
You carry the light that has been tended by these great people and countless others, and now your names are added to the list of the flame bearers. You are blessed with that light, and yet you have a responsibility. Use your light to change the world.
We have every faith in your abilities, your strength, and your power. But remember, young leaders, and this is very important. You are not alone. Your home communities and those around the country and even in the world are ready to help you relight your flames when the need arises. We love you. We trust you. We send you forth with a blessing.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: So, Olivia, do you think we brought some synergy to this space?
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: We certainly came together tonight to recognize the power in coming together. We have been blessed, and we have bridged. Can the people who bridged this evening raise up their glow sticks one more time, letting their light shine? Isn't this amazing?
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Before we leave this evening, can I ask everyone here and at home to rise in body or spirit? Take the hand of your neighbor or raise your hands to this sky, as you feel comfortable. And our closing blessing will begin.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Blessed are the fire builders.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Providing heat, strength, and hope.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Blessed are the flame bearers.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Lighting the way and gathering us together.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Blessed are the bridge builders.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Reaching out across divides.
OLIVIA SCHUEBOE-ELIZINGA: Blessed are the young leaders.
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Stirring the fires in our souls. And join us in the final line of this blessing.
ALL: Blessed are the leaders of today and the lights of tomorrow. Amen.
Closing Song: “I’ve Got Peace Like A River (In My Soul),” adapted
CHRISTOPHER WATKINS: Amen.
SPEAKER6: Friends, it is time for us to go forth from this place, some of us a little different than when we got here. So I would ask that those of us who are in the seats would take those seats for a moment. Those of us who are in the aisles, if you would make your way out as we drum. And then if we would give a few moments for our friends who have difficulty navigating those same aisles to exit before we rise and go out into our world. Go in peace.