Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Chalice Children: A Program about Our Unitarian Universalist Community for Preschoolers

Leader Resource 1: The Flower and Water Ceremonies

Adapted from The Flower Communion: A Service of Celebration for Religious Liberals by Reginald Zottoli with permission from the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, which first published this resource in The Communion Book, edited by Carl Seaburg.

The Flower Ceremony

The Unitarian Universalist Flower Festival service was created by Dr. Norbert Capek [pronounced CHAH-peck] (1870—1942), who, along with his wife, Maja V. Capek, founded the Unitarian Church in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He introduced this festival to the church on June 4, 1923, as a ritual of togetherness and hope. Capek turned to his surroundings—the countryside—and created a simple service using flowers and nature. On the last Sunday before the summer recess of the Unitarian church in Prague, all the children and adults participated in this colorful ritual, which gives concrete expression to the humanity-affirming principles of our liberal faith.

According to Capek's daughter, Capek intentionally called this service a Flower Festival or Flower Celebration because he did not want to confuse or alienate his congregants with the term "communion," which had many connotations from the Christian tradition. It is for this reason that the Chalice Children curriculum refers to the ritual as the Flower Ceremony, rather than Flower Communion, as it is known in many UU congregations.

Read more about the origins of this ceremony in the Tapestry of Faith program A Place of Wholeness, Workshop 5.

The Water Communion

The water ceremony was conceived in 1980 by Carolyn McDade, composer of the beloved hymn "Spirit of Life," and Lucile Schuck Longview, one of our movement's leaders, at the Women and Religion continental convocation, as a way for women who lived far apart to connect the work each was doing locally to the whole. Each woman brought a jar of water from the place she lived, and during the ceremony poured it into a bowl, naming what made it precious to her. Then, dipping their hands into the water they'd combined, each blessed the woman next to her, imparting strength to continue her work.