The first Water Ritual was held at the November 1980 Women and Religion Continental Convocation of Unitarian Universalists in East Lansing, Michigan. Created by activist Carolyn McDade and UU leader Lucile Schuck Longview "as a way for women who lived far apart to connect the work each was doing locally to the whole", it has come to be used as an ingathering/homecoming ritual for UU congregations.
Due to the nature of Unitarian Universalism, traditions vary from one congregation to another; however, most Water Communions follow the same general idea. Throughout the year, members of the congregation collect small amounts of water that have meaning for them, either from a special location (e.g., the family home, an ocean or river, memento of a trip) or a special occasion (first rain after a dry spell). At the service, the samples of water are placed in a single bowl so they can merge. Some of the water is often saved, sterilized, and then used for ceremonial purposes at other times of the year; the rest is returned to the world. "Returning Water to the Earth"
The symbolism, like that of the comparable Flower Communion, can be interpreted in various ways. The classic life-related symbolism of water is apparent. The rejoining of many waters can also symbolize the rejoining of the congregation after summer travels.
McDade and Longview chose this way to honor the "journeys" of women, and to represent the way women both contribute to and draw from each other's strength, working both individually and together, to bring change.
- Carolyn McDade, Lucile Longview, Coming Home, Like Rivers to the Sea: A Women's Ritual. Original booklet published by Pacific Central District W&R, November 1980.
- Kimberly French, "Carolyn McDade's Spirit of Life", UU World, Fall 2007
- "The Water Ritual" Booklet of the original ceremony written by Carolyn McDade and Lucile Longview
- "Celebrating the Water Communion"
- "Changes to Water Service Bring Deeper Meaning"
- "A Water Service for Individuals, Families or Congregations" by Eliza Blanchard
- "International Water Communion" September 2011
- "Got Water?" UU Service Committee
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