Seeing so many of you at the Open House on Sunday was like our before times coffee hour except on steroids! It was beautiful, energizing, intense, exhausting, healing, and hopeful. I especially loved the chance to give about 40 or so newcomers a tour of the buildings and to see many of you for the first time in nearly a year and a half. I also really loved seeing you all greet each other, and to remember what it feels like to be in community again after being apart for so long.
The catching-up conversations at the Open House were a powerful reminder that everyone’s pandemic experience was different and that we are, both individually and collectively, in a time of transition, a time of discerning what’s next for us. It was also a reminder of how – even with having connected in new and creative ways over the past 16 months – there is deep meaning to being together in person – in the excited hug from an old friend, the big grin when you realize you and your new acquaintance have something in common, in the anticipation of learning about a small group or ministry that feeds your passion for justice or spiritual growth.
Some folks shared, understandably, that online church didn’t resonate much, whereas others connected more deeply when able to tune in from home and are grateful that online services will continue. Regardless of how you experienced Foothills during the pandemic, or whether you plan to stay online or come back in person (or a mix of both), it’s good to take this time of transition to absorb all we’ve been through in the past year and a half, and to listen to each other’s pandemic stories, and to bring this into conversation with the promises and practices of our covenantal faith.
As a congregation, we are bound together not by a common set of beliefs but by a set of promises of how we will journey together across our differences. As 16th century Unitarian Francis David is credited with saying, “We need not think alike to love alike.” Our covenant is the practice of loving alike.
One manifestation of our promises is expressed in the words of our covenant that we recite together every Sunday:
Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law; this is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.
We are now just 8 weeks away from our return to regular in-person services, starting with our Water Communion service on September 19th. In this service, we will affirm our promises to each other anew as we discover who we are now – after all we’ve experienced, and also with all the newcomers that have joined us over this time, as well as those who we have been missing online – and who together we will become.
Water Communion is a yearly ritual for many Unitarian Universalist congregations, including Foothills! Community members bring a small amount of water (often from a special place to them or from their home). During the ritual, each person pours their water into a shared vessel. The combined water symbolizes both what we each bring and, maybe more importantly, how we are changed by our commitment to journeying together.
At this year’s Water Communion, we’ll celebrate our coming together with a shared covenant ceremony during which we affirm our promises to each other as a community. We’ll also welcome new members who have joined since the pandemic!
So mark your calendars to join us at the Church on Sunday, September 19th, for Water Communion 2021! Please bring a small amount of water from somewhere special to you (your home, a favorite river or reservoir, a vacation spot, rainwater, etc.)
We also have several opportunities to practice being together in person before Water Communion on September 19th! Check those out below, and keep visiting foothillsuu.org/reopening for continuing updates on more chances to connect in person!