Honoring Founders/Longterm Members

A minister handing a yellow rose to a church member, the lit chalice in the background

The following ritual—which could be used to honor a congregation's founders—is used at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines (IA) to honor decade(s) membership anniversaries. Those celebrating 10, 20, 30, etc. years of membership are invited on stage, given a rose for each decade of membership, and asked to take part in the following responsive reading:

Congregation: Today we celebrate your membership in our church. We are grateful for your presence and for all the ways you have participated in this congregation.
Honored Members: Thank you. Our lives have been enriched by our presence and participation here.
C: Through your contributions of time, talent and treasure, you have helped our congregation thrive as a vibrant home for religious seekers. You’ve nurtured children. You’ve offered gentle hands and hearts in times of need. And you’ve stood on the side of love and justice in our community.
HM: It’s been our privilege to continue the legacy of the members who have come before us. We’ve had many meaningful experiences here and are grateful for this congregation.
C: Have you always been happy with the church?
HM: No.
C: At times, you have been disappointed and stayed anyway.
HM: That’s right.
C: Why did you stay?
HM: Because we have learned that the church is the workshop of our common endeavor. If something isn’t right, we have a role to play in making it better. Living well in community is understanding that the congregation’s needs may take priority over our own. We won’t always get our way, but it matters that we stay.
C: Thank you for your example. Thank you for staying, serving, and growing with us. Our church is a better place because you have been here.

All: Our church is a better place because we have all been here.