Ceremonies and Traditions
Special holidays like Christmas Eve, the Winter Solstice, and Passover create the rhythm of the year. Members, friends, and visitors to the church are invited to participate as we move through the calendar.
NEW MEMBER WELCOMING CEREMONY
We formally welcome new members several times a year during Sunday Worship Service. Being welcoming isn’t simply about laying out a welcome mat, offering a warm smile and a cup of coffee. It means creating space where people feel like they belong, where they feel comfortable bringing all their identities. It means being willing to be changed by each other. On New Member Sunday, we formally welcome those who have joined Emerson as members, and consider how that changes the congregation, new members and old.
As our senior high students make their transition from high school to college, we have a “Bridging Ceremony” to send them on their way with love and support from the entire congregation. In the photo shown here, two of our graduating seniors, with their families, Minister, and Religious Education Director, experience this special event.
When we return to the two service schedule in the fall, the first service includes the Water Ceremony. Each person brings a small amount of water which represents the places we have been through the summer. We pour our waters together as we gather in community. This ritual is becoming common in our denomination.
EARTH DAY PAGEANT
Children, youth, and adults are often invited to worship together in celebration. Last Year we acted out our connection to the interdependent web with a playful, theatrical, participatory service. Together—with no rehearsals—we told the story of The Great Kapok Tree, and how the animals of the rainforest came together to save it from destruction.
THANKSGIVING DINNER POTLUCK
On Thanksgiving afternoon, members, friends and their guests gather in the Fireside Room to share the traditional meal together. Turkey and mashed potatoes are cooked at church, and the side dishes and desserts are supplied by those attending.
BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER
The ritual of communion began as a time set aside to welcome everyone to a communal table to share food and give thanks. Several members of our Emerson community graciously offer to bake bread that we share during our service to celebrate the gifts of the earth, and the gifts of our own hands and hearts.
We celebrate the traditional Christian holiday with song and story, singing the traditional carols and finding meaning in the birth of Jesus for our lives today.
Each year on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the renewal of the earth and of ourselves.
The first occurrence of this ceremony was in Czechoslovakia following World War I. The Unitarian Church in Prague had survived the war, and Norbert Čapek, the minister, asked people to go gather flowers and bring them to decorate the church. For this celebration each person brings a flower, and takes home one brought by another.