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Synergy: A Bridging Worship

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General Assembly 2010 Event 3070

Unedited Live Captioning (TXT)

Read the report from the UU World General Assembly Blog: Celebrating Multigenerational Relationships.

A worship including voices from across the generations, this service honors our bridging youth and lifts up our multigenerational relationships. Celebrate our faith and community in this worship for all ages.

The following final draft script was completed before this event took place; actual words spoken may vary.

Ingathering, Welcome

[Pre-service singing]

[John Hubert speaking]

Hello everyone! Our first song this evening has some movements that I would like to teach you.

But first I would like to introduce Kellie Walker from Valley UU [Unitarian Universalist] Church in Chandler, AZ, and Matt Meyer from Boston, MA. The song is one that many of us know—"Gathered Here." We will start the song with our arms spread wide open and gradually bring them together in front of our torso as we sing "gathered here." For the words “in the mystery of the hour,” we will bring our arms up with them parallel, just above our heads and draw them down as if demonstrating the rain. Again the same motion for "gathered here." Then for "one strong body" we will clasp our hands in front of our body and bounce them on the beat. Again we return to the "gathered here" motion. Then for “the struggle and the power” we will borrow a move from the musical Grease as we twirl our arms like a wheel turning in front of our body. Fists closed. And finally with “Spirit draw near” we raise our arms in parallel in front our heads and draw our hands down like the rain bringing them to our hearts.

Good. Now we will sing it through together, with the motions. Kellie will lead the first part of the round, and I’ll bring in the second.

Hymn: “Gathered Here” (#389)

[Congregation singing]

Gathered here in the mystery of hour.
Gathered here in one strong body.
Gathered here in the struggle and the power.
Spirit, draw near.

[Jim Scott speaking]

Hello everyone! I invite to join in singing my setting of “May your life be as a song.” This chorus is of Russian derivation. The words in English I'd heard just bothered me that they weren't a grammatical sentence, so I wanted to fix that. Then I got carried away and added two verses. I'll take care of the verses and you'll see where you come in. After we sing through the refrain once, we will break into a three part round with John and Kellie helping us out.

Hymn: “May Your Life Be As a Song” (#1059)

[Jim singing]

My wish for you as now we part is for greater peace to fill your heart,
With dreams as vast as starry space, so hurt and anger know no place.
May truth be shared and wounds be healed and joy for living be revealed.
Through ev'ry fate and circumstance may hope lead weary steps to dance when it smiles on you.

[Congregation singing]

May your life be as a song,
Resounding with the dawn to sing awake the light.
And softly serenade the stars,
Ever dancing circles in the night.

(repeat several times)

[John speaking]

We will close out our pre-service singing with Carolyn McDade's beautiful folk anthem Come Sing a Song with Me. Feel free to sing loud and don't be afraid to sway!

Hymn: “Come Sing a Song” (#346)

[Congregation singing]

Come, sing a song with me, come, sing a song with me,
Come, sing a song with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, dream a dream with me, come, sing a song with me,
Come, dream a dream with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, walk in rain with me, come, sing a song with me,
Come, walk in rain with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Come, share a rose with me, come, sing a song with me,
Come, share a rose with me, that I might know your mind.
And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find,
And I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.

Opening Words & Chalice Lighting

Sarah Burt (UU Church of Minnetonka; Wayzata, MN)

[Sarah speaking]

Our opening words are written by Unitarian Universalist minister and social justice activist, the Reverend Richard S. Gilbert.

We bid you welcome, who come with weary spirit seeking rest.
Who come with troubles that are too much with you, who come hurt and afraid.
We bid you welcome, who come with hope in your heart.
Who come with anticipation in your step, who come proud and joyous.
We bid you welcome, who are seekers of a new faith.
Who come to probe and explore. Who come to learn.
We bid you welcome, who enter this hall as a homecoming,
Who have found here room for your spirit. Who find in this people a family.
Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are on your journey,
We bid you welcome.

[Two bridging youth will light the chalice in silence here.]

[John speaking]

In the spirit of Emma Goldman's famous attribution, "If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution", emma's revolution brings their uprising of truth, hope and a dash of healthy irreverence to concerts and peace & justice events across the U.S., tonight, Sandy Opatow and Pat Humphries join us to lead their song: "Keep on Moving Forward."

Hymn: “Keep Moving Forward”

Words and music by Pat Humphries

[Congregation singing]

Gonna keep on walking forward
Keep on walking forward
Keep on walking forward
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna keep on walking proudly
Keep on walking proudly
Keep on walking proudly
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna keep on singing loudly
Keep on singing loudly
Keep on singing loudly
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna keep on loving boldly
Keep on loving boldly
Keep on loving boldly
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna reach across our borders
Reach across our borders
Reach across our borders
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna stop these wars together
Stop these wars together
Stop these wars together
Never turning back
Never turning back
Gonna keep on moving forward
Keep on moving forward
Keep on moving forward
Never turning back
Never turning back

Introduction to Interactive Activity

Michelle Collins (Towson UU Church)

[Michelle speaking]

We come from many paths and from many stages of our lives. I now invite you into a time of reflection, a time of both looking back and moving forward. Thinking back on the life you have lived

up until now, what time of your life do you look back on with joy or pride? Looking forward, what time do you most anticipate with hope and excitement? I invite you to take a moment to consider what these high points in your life may be. When you entered this evening, you received two cards and a pencil. When you are ready, on the blue card labeled “looking back” please write the age you look back on with joy and a word or brief phrase that represents that time for you. On the yellow card labeled “looking forward,” please write the age you look forward to with anticipation and hope, also with a word or brief phrase that best describes that time of hope for you. Please take a couple of moments for this, and then the cards will be collected by the ushers. Later in the service, these will be shared in both words and visual form. If you do not wish for your offering to be shared aloud, please indicate this on your card.

[GA band will play soft background music during this time]

Our Transitions Through Time: A Multigenerational Homily

[All speaking]

We are Unitarian Universalists…

[Elka Cartmell Ladd speaking]

…and we are of many ages.

[Abhimanyu Janamanchi speaking]

I am 16 years old. In these 16 years, I have witnessed 9/11, a devastating tsunami, two wars, an economic crisis, and the election of the first president of color. My generation is about to inherit the problems of previous generations in regards to the environment and the climate. Yet in times like these, I am a Unitarian Universalist when just saying I’m a Hindu would be easier.

[Tom Stapleford speaking]

I can remember when a 72-year-old person was really old—It’s amazing how much younger that age group has become! I look back at being a husband, father, stepfather, naval officer, engineer, manager, corporate officer, consultant, and retiree-in-training and say, “is that all there is?” Today, it’s clear I am just getting started in helping the leaders of many ages who are coming behind me sharpen their focus.

[Dylan Rickard speaking]

I’m 12 years old, but I don’t really think that is relevant. I have reached that age that people do, where little things start becoming really important. Everyone is texting, talking on the phone, and just trying to keep their social status as high as possible. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed 9/11, the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan, hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the great recession, and the inauguration of Barak Obama.

[Irene Boczek speaking]

I just celebrated my 18 billionth, 300 millionth breath.

[Elka Cartmell Ladd speaking]

On the day of my birth, the world was also blessed with the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I was born just after MTV played its first music video, and by the time I graduated high school it seemed they were no longer playing any. The Commodore 64 was released in the year I was born, and I now have a more powerful computer in my cell phone. I was about to turn seven when the Berlin Wall came down and nine when the USSR dissolved. I was in college when facebook became available only to students and I now know people on facebook across four generations.

[Christopher Sims speaking]

My age is relevant to the environment only achieved by doing the work, and watching those just below me benefit from it. Yet, I still admire the many kindred, hard loving, and hardworking Unitarian Universalists who laid the foundation for my progress. We still laugh, travel, and sweat together in small, cozy rooms—because the work must be done.

[All speaking]

We are Unitarian Universalists…

[Tom Stapleford speaking]

…and we love our faith.

[Dylan Rickard speaking]

To me, being a Unitarian Universalist is a unique experience. Whenever someone asks me what religion I practice, I tell them that I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and with a vague and slightly confused nod, they reply “Oh… umm… cool.”

[Elka Cartmell Ladd speaking]

My faith encourages me to never stop learning and growing, and to find my path with an open heart and an open mind. I am transient, moving every year or so, so my sense of community must be mobile and flexible. I feel connected to the UU faith more than any one church, so that I can carry that connection with me. It has been an honor to have served in so many leadership positions in our faith as a youth and young adult and to have had my voice lifted up and heard by those in power. As a young adult UU, I am responsible for helping to fulfill our promise and shape our future. Our UU history shows that youth and young adults have always been at the forefront of justice making and anti-oppression work. I am so grateful for how being a part of this work has shaped me as a person and as a member of this religious community.

[Christopher Sims speaking]

I love and adore my status as a Unitarian Universalist. I can still hear laughter and the chatter that comes with planning and leadership. I've watched leaders in order to become one. My varied involvement paints my evolving story as a growing Unitarian Universalist, who has benefited from community and activism.

[Irene Boczek speaking]

Learning and loving, helping and being helped.

Laughing and crying, helping and being helped.

Thinking and feeling, helping and being helped.

Singing and meditating, helping and being helped.

Growing and being, helping and being helped.

Chatting and holding, helping and being helped.

Lifting and being carried, helping and being helped.

[Tom Stapleford speaking]

Making a difference has always been a life goal for me, and it has become clearer as I age how I might do that. In particular, It’s becoming less difficult to apply our UU principles in dealing with choices as my focus both sharpens and widens as I move away from being an employee and representative of a company and establish myself in the larger world as the person I am.

[Abhimanyu Janamanchi speaking]

For me, being a UU is more than coming to church, eating food at potlucks, hanging out with friends, etc… It has helped me to see the world in a much broader view. In this faith, I have learned to be accepting and understanding of different people. Here I have learned that everyone has worth and dignity. But there are times I don’t know how to describe or explain what it is properly. What I can do though, is show what being a UU is. And that is exactly what the golden rule says: “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.”

[All speaking]

We are Unitarian Universalists…

[Christopher Sims speaking]

…and we have many responsibilities in our lives, our communities, and in our world.

[Elka Cartmell Ladd speaking]

I am responsible for carrying forward the history of our faith, honoring those who have gone before while moving towards a vision of beloved community.

I am responsible for asking for help when I need it and for owning that while I have more answers than I used to, I have nowhere near all of them.

I am responsible for stepping fully into myself as a minister, caring for and leading the congregations I serve with dedication, compassion, and vision.

I am responsible for sharing my prophetic voice by speaking truth to power with love.

I am responsible for embracing all people as blessings just as they are while offering transformation and challenge so that we continue to grow as individuals and as a faith.

[Dylan Rickard speaking]

Some of my responsibilities are things such as homework and chores. Five days every week of nine months, I have to go to school and learn. I also have to show up at all of my soccer games, and tennis practices. At church, I light the chalice during the service from time to time. I attend a religious education class where I learn all sorts of new things about our faith. I make new friends and help out wherever I can.

[Irene Boczek speaking]

To love, to be,

to love, to hope,

to love, to sing,

to love, to serve.

[Abhimanyu Janamanchi speaking]

I am responsible for my intellectual and spiritual development. I am called to be involved in the life of the community, to build relationships, and represent what I stand for. One of my friends and I were discussing politics and eventually, the topic of gay marriage came up and he started to tell me how it shouldn’t be allowed. I told him that I disagreed with his viewpoint and explained to him that everyone has the freedom to love whoever they want and that gay people have the same rights as straight people. At that point, I realized that it was my Unitarian Universalism that gave me the courage to speak out loud what my heart believed to be true.

[Tom Stapleford speaking]

Serving the cause of Unitarian Universalism successively as the Minister’s Spouse, District Board Member, District President, member of the Commission on Congregational Property Loans and Guarantees and of the UU President’s Council have been among the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.

[Christopher Sims speaking]

In the wake of the light of my energy and spirit, my name has been called and I've asked others to follow me to the tops of high mountains and directions way past mediocrity. I've looked our youth in the eyes and saw the same capability, craftiness, focus and creativity in them. I hold the torch in between the taught and the teachable.

[All speaking]

We are Unitarian Universalists…

[Irene Boczek speaking]

…and these are some of our experiences.

[Abhimanyu Janamanchi speaking]

My religious community has been an integral part of my life that I would not be able to replace. It is not just a place of comfort for me but a religious home in all senses of the word. Throughout my life, I have always felt the need to be involved and connected to my religious community. So without Unitarian Universalism, I truly would not be the person that I am today.

[Dylan Rickard speaking]

I really enjoy being a part of this religious community because it’s a lot of fun. I get to meet new people, make new friends, and learn about all sorts of other religions. Last year, I visited half a dozen churches with my class, and we got to take part in their services. This year, we’ve learned about how the Unitarians and the Universalists combined and formed UUs. We also studied the life of Jesus Christ. Overall, I’ve had a great experience with my church.

[Elka Cartmell Ladd speaking]

Religious community has always been home for me. Between my minister mom and my lay leader dad, I got church from every angle from a very early age. Religious community is where I feel held, even when I am far from its walls. Religious community has encouraged me to let my divine light shine brightly and has pushed me to confront my privilege so that I might work towards a vision where everyone’s light can shine as brightly. Without religious community I cannot fully live my faith, as I need mirrors to show me myself and the support of companions on this journey. I have always found a space for myself in new religious communities, though at times I have had to work to carve it out for myself.

[Irene Boczek speaking]

I’ve heard that the roots of the word religion, mean to bind together and that best describes my experience in religious community. Bound in reverence to far, far galaxies and close, close friends. Bound in awe to tall redwood trees and little poodle-ly things. Bound in joy to squawking crows and melodius choirs. Bound in love to those in the depths of pain and those flying in joy… bound in love to all.

[Tom Stapleford speaking]

Being a part of a group where diversity is more often welcomed than not, where collective effort is augmented with individual and unique perspectives and skills frequently exceeds expectations of success, and service to each other and to the larger community is supported by many most of the time, all while wrestling with the most important questions addressing our individual and collective purpose in existing is probably as good as it gets!

[Christopher Sims speaking]

In community, I've listened, learned to step back, planned with purpose, written poetry for worship, shared a stage with a comrade to bring you unconventional worship services, traveled to Boston and New York to help, and shared one big space where many of us prayed or meditated under the soft light of candles.

[All speaking]

We are Unitarian Universalists.

(Homily speakers return to their seats.)

[John Hubert speaking]

I am pleased to introduce Justin Roth. Justin is a nationally touring singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist from Minneapolis and a frequent guest musician at Unitarian Universalist services all across the country. He writes beautiful, heartfelt music that I am sure you will enjoy. Here is Shine by Justin Roth.

Song: “Shine”

Written and performed by Justin Roth (no UU congregational affiliation)

[Justin Roth speaking]

An august night, a rocky mountain sky
I stay up late to watch the stars rise
Around 3am seven sisters peek their eyes
at earthly bodies huddled around the fire
They look in wonder down on the land
as stars are born and rise under them

(Chorus)

It doesn't matter if you're an ember or a flame
Or a cinder rising towards the sky
The light we give is not ours to tame
but just to let it shine
Who's to say what makes a star
shine bright enough to be seen from afar
Hydrogen, carbon and flame are all a part
of every star and every fire in our hearts
Into the skies sending light
some glow, others beacons in the night
Like voices singing a song
for the whole world to hear our constellation

(Chorus)

It doesn't matter if you're an ember or a flame
Or a cinder rising towards the sky
The light we give is not ours to tame
but just to let it shine
An august night, a rocky mountain sky
Let's stay up late and watch the stars rise

Introduction of Bridging Ritual

Michelle Collins (Towson UU Church)

[Michelle speaking]

I now invite the youth, young adults, and adults who will be participating in the bridging ritual to join me on the stage. The youth and bridgers will gather on this side [indicate stage right], and the young adults and adults will gather on this side [indicate stage left]. Bridgers, as you cross from the youth to the young adults, please say your name and congregation.

[John Hubert speaking]

As the bridgers cross the stage, we will hum the bridging hymn. Once all of the bridgers have crossed, please join in singing with the words displayed on the screens.

Hymn: “The Bridging Hymn”

Written by Jen Hazel

[Congregation singing]

Ooh, take my hand
Ooh, take my hand
Take my hand, take my hand
Ooh, take my hand
Ooh, fill my heart
Ooh, fill my heart
Fill my heart, fill my heart
Ooh, fill my heart
Ooh, move my soul
Ooh, move my soul
Move my soul, move my soul
Ooh, move my soul

Congregational Affirmation—Responsive Reading

[Michelle (Or Marshal) speaking]

Please join us in reading the congregational affirmation displayed above. The response by the bridging young adults is, “We welcome your blessing and move forward in hope.”

[Youth speaking]

For your gifts of fellowship and joy, we give you our thanks. For memories we will always cherish, we give you our thanks. As you grow out of the youth community, we give you our blessing, and our hope that you will remember the many gifts you have received in your time with us. We honor you.

[Bridging Young Adults speaking]

We welcome your blessing, and move forward in hope.

[Adults speaking]

For the rich individual gifts of your souls, we welcome you. For your questions and challenges, hopes and anxieties, we welcome you. As you join the adult community, we give you our blessing, and our hope that you may find us allies as well as friends. We honor you.

[Bridging Young Adults speaking]

We welcome your blessing, and move forward in hope.

[All speaking]

Tonight we honor not only a transition, but a community: a community of parents and children, and of siblings of every age; a community of our ancestors long since passed, and of our descendants yet to be born. May we all share in the love of these relationships and honor their presence tonight.

[Michelle (Or Marshal) speaking]

Please join me in welcoming our newest young adults.

(Applause from audience, perhaps a couple of tomatoes.)

Presenting the Congregation’s Sharings

Ellen Zemlin (Church of the Younger Fellowship)

[Ellen speaking]

As we look back on our lives and look forward, they intersect and weave together in both expected and unexpected ways. As a community we share both commonalities and differences as we consider times of joy and hope in our lives. Here is what some of you shared that you look back on with joy and pride.

[Reading from some of the blue cards.]

And here is what you shared that you look forward to with hope and excitement.

[Reading from some of the yellow cards.]

We intersect, we diverge, our lives weave together and overlap. Some of us look back on times that others still look forward to. These cards represent our memories and our hopes. They represent the ways we are connected, experiences that are shared, though they may have happened decades apart. We encourage you to share with each other outside this gathering, as you have shared them with us tonight.

Charge to the Bridgers

Michelle Collins (Towson UU Church)

Good evening. I am honored to have been asked to give the charge to the bridgers this evening. I have always thought the term “bridging” to be both a bit odd and quite evocative. A bridge is a connection between two definite and concrete geographic places. In one sense, bridging describes the transition from the life stage of being a youth to the beginning of adulthood. And there are a number of definite things that can be said about this destination of one’s bridge: adulthood holds ever greater responsibilities, more choices, and more freedom for those choices. It may hold changes in the way your work looks, changes in your relationships, your family, perhaps the journey of parenthood, a journey which some of you may have already started on but may be in the future for others. Answers to the question of what you are responsible for evolve throughout your lifetime, but much more so at this time of transition.

Understood in another sense, this bridge is a temporal one, from the present to a future that is not yet formed. It is a bridge to the “land of tomorrow.” The place where you’re going isn’t already set up for you—it’s up to you to make it happen.

It reminds me of the following words which are attributed to twentieth century mystic and prophet Dr. Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

“Ask yourself what makes you come alive… because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” The world has plenty of people going around and trying to fill this particular need or that particular need. But that’s not the passion or the faith that makes things move and change. It’s people who’ve come alive that do that.

Our charge to you as you begin to build your “land of tomorrow” is to find your calling, your passion, find what makes you come alive. Dig deep into your soul and into your roots in our religious tradition; dig deep into the truths that you’ve found in relationship with others. Find the path that truly makes you come alive. Because the world doesn’t just need people who have come alive; the world is hungry for people who have come alive. We live in a time of war and violence, both at home and abroad; we live in a time of countless intersecting and overlapping oppressions; we live in a time of drastic economic inequalities; we live in a time of profound ecological destruction, with the waters of our ocean drenched with oil. Our world is hungry for you!

You are entering a world that can be brighter. We cannot change every injustice, which is why Dr. Thurman reminds us not to ask what the world needs. We can seek instead seek the passion through which we find the courage to change what we can. We can reach to both our Unitarian Universalist values and principles, to our history and faith tradition, and to those traveling with us on this journey. What a force we can be if we’ve all come alive!

As you go forward into adulthood, may you seek your calling and ways to live into it. Maybe you already have a seedling idea of what this might be, maybe you do not. Maybe it will remain constant throughout your life. Quite possibly your calling will grow and change. May it sustain you, those around you, and your work for change in the world.

Blessing to the Bridgers

Michelle Collins (Towson UU Church)

[Michelle speaking]

Now, there is a lot of movement and energy surrounding your lives on your bridges and through your transitions. Though each path is uniquely your own, your journey is supported by those here in this congregation, by your congregations, and by our religious movement. I now invite this gathered body into a tangible affirmation of our support. Through our hands, I invite us to hold our bridging youth in love and affirmation and support, to hold them in our hearts and our metaphorical arms, even as they spread their wings to fly forward in their lives. Bridgers, please line up across the front of the stage.

I invite you now, in body or in spirit, to rise and extend your hands towards our bridging youth. [pause] Through your hands, send your supportive energies, your love, your caring, your passion to share. In the words of a Universalist prayer, there is a Love holding all of us. Let us take a moment to hold our bridging youth in this Love.

[pause for a minute]

May this energy and love support you as you journey into adulthood.

Thank you, please remain as you are for our next hymn.

Hymn: “The Fire of Commitment” (#1028)

[John Hubert speaking]

When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within—then our promise finds fulfillment and our future can begin. I invite you to set our souls ablaze with Jason Shelton and Mary Katherine Morn's celebratory song the Fire of Commitment.

[Congregation singing]

From the light of days remembered burns a beacon bright and clear.
Guiding hands and hearts and spirits into faith set free from fear.
When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze.
When our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way.
When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within.
Then our promise finds fulfillment and our future can begin.
From the stories of our living rings a song both brave and free.
Calling pilgrims still to witness to the life of liberty.
When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze.
When our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way.
When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within.
Then our promise finds fulfillment and our future can begin.
From the dreams of youthful vision comes a new, prophetic voice.
Which demands a deeper justice built by our courageous choice.
When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze.
When our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way.
When we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within.
Then our promise finds fulfillment and our future can begin.

Closing Words

Michelle Collins (Towson UU Church)

[Michelle speaking]

Our closing words are by Unitarian Universalist minister, the Reverend Lauralyn Bellamy.

If, here, you have found freedom, take it with you into the world.
If you have found comfort, go and share it with others.
If you have dreamed dreams, help one another that they may come true!
If you have known love, give some back to a bruised and hurting world.
Go in peace.

Postlude—GA Band

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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