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Flower Communion, June 7

Sunday, June 7, during both services.

bouquetOn Sunday, June 7, we will observe our annual ritual of the Flower Communion during both services. Please bring a handful of flowers from your garden, to contribute to the baskets before the service. Everyone will be invited to take a flower during the ritual, at the end of the service.

Here's the story of the Flower Communion:
A Service of Celebration for Religious Liberals -- by Reginald Zottoli

The Flower communion service was created by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced this special service to that church on June 4, 1923. For some time he had felt the need for some symbolic ritual that would bind people more closely together. The format had to be one that would not alienate any who had forsaken other religious traditions. The traditional Christian communion service with bread and wine was unacceptable to the members of his congregation because of their strong reaction against the Catholic faith. So he turned to the native beauty of their countryside for elements of a communion which would be genuine to them. This simple service was the result.

It was such
a success that it was held yearly just before the summer recess of the church. The flower communion was brought to the United States in 1940 and introduced to the members of our Cambridge, Massachusetts, church by Dr. Capek's wife, Maja V. Capek. The Czech-born Maja had met Norbert Capek in New York City while he was studying for his Ph.D., and it was at her urging that Norbert left the Baptist ministry and turned to Unitarianism. The Capeks returned to Czechoslovakia in 1921 and established the dynamic liberal church in Prague; Maja Capek was ordained in 1926. It was during her tour of the United States that Maja introduced the flower communion, which had been developed in the Prague church, at the Unitarian church in Cambridge. Unfortunately, Maja was unable to return to Prague due to the outbreak of World War II, and it was not until the war was over that Norbert Capek's death in a Nazi concentration camp was revealed. From this beginning the service has spread to many of our Unitarian Universalist congregations and has been adapted along the way.

People were asked to bring a flower of their choice, either from their own gardens. or from the field or roadside. When they arrived at church a large vase stood waiting in the vestibule, attended by two young members of the Church School. Each person was asked to place their own flower in the vase. This signified that it was by their own free will they joined with the others. The vase that contained all the flowers was a symbol of the united church fellowship. The young attendants helped with the arrangement of the bouquet. Later they carried the vase up to the front of the auditorium and placed it on a table there. Dr. Capek then said a prayer, after which he walked over and consecrated the flowers while the congregation stood. The two attendants then took the vase back out into the vestibule. After the service, as people left the church, they went to the vase and each took a flower from the vase other than the one that they had brought.

The significance of the flower communion
is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. Our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community, it would not be the same without each and every one of us. Thus this
service is a statement of our community.


Pre-Planning Begins for 150th Anniversary Celebration

The 150th Anniversary Steering Committee has begun  gathering input for the best ways to celebrate our congregation’s 150th anniversary in 2016.

(This illustration is of Portland's very first Unitarian chapel, built by the growing congregation in 1866 at the corner of SW Broadway and Yamhill, on the outskirts of town.)

Original_Unitarian_ChapelAt this point we're envisioning several activities throughout the 2015–16 church year, involving many volunteers and congregational groups. In the summer of 2015, the UUA General Assembly will be held in Portland, providing an exciting beginning for our year of celebration.

Do you have ideas? Are you willing to volunteer to organize or assist with an event or activity? If so, we’d like to hear from you. You can share your suggestions with any of the committee members listed below, or send comments to our email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Starting this fall, in addition to the email link, we will communicate developments through a dedicated 150th anniversary section on our church website.

Our goal is to make this anniversary a congregation-wide series of events that recognize our long and distinguished history in Portland and celebrate the current life of the church community.

Co-Chairs: Marilyn Scott and Randy Russell
Committee members: Pierre Provost, Martha Richards, Julia Spence, Vic Vore, Jessie Eller-Isaacs and Andy Furgeson.


Sewell Lecture: Thom Hartmann

The Sewell Lecture: Speaking of Justice presents

New_HartmannThom Hartmann

speaking on

Passing the 28th Amendment:
Creating a People’s Democracy,
Ending Corporate Dominance

Friday, April 26, 2013, 7 p.m.

First Unitarian Church Sanctuary

Cost:  $5-$20, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Tickets available at the door or at First Unitarian Church on Sundays.

“Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions.” Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth


Thom Hartmann, progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host and New York Times bestselling author of 24 books, will speak on the movement to amend the constitution for the 28th time to remake American democracy to reflect the desires of We, the People instead of We, the Corporations.  Hartmann returns to Portland for the Sewell Lecture: Speaking of Justice at the First Unitarian Church on Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m.  His talk will be followed by a gathering of Community-based organizations working for economic and social justice in Portland. Books will be available as well as refreshments at the community gathering following the Lecture.

In his book Unequal Protection, author Thom Hartmann tells a compelling story that tracks the history of the loss of democracy in America. About Unequal Protection, Paul Hawken writes, “Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies.”

The book begins with the birth of the modern corporation with the founding of the East India Company in 1600, through the Boston Tea Party revolt against transnational corporate domination of the early American economy, the rise of corporations during the Civil War, the ultimate theft of human rights before the Supreme Court in 1886, and into the modern-day theft of human rights in the US and worldwide by corporate interests and the politicians they own.

Because of a misleading account in a Supreme Court reporter's notes in an 1886 railroad tax case, corporations are now legally considered "persons," equal to humans and entitled to many of the same protections guaranteed only to humans by the Bill of Rights - a clear contradiction of the intent of the Founders of the United States. The results of this "corporate personhood" have been Unequal taxes, Unequal wealth, Unequal regulation, Unequal media and a democracy dominated by corporate interests and power.

To remedy the legal blunder of corporate personhood and the court created doctrine that Money Equals Speech, Hartmann will speak on specific action steps that can be taken by citizens, courts, legislatures, and local communities.

Thom Hartmann has spent much of his life working with and for the international Salem relief organization (www.saleminternational.org) and he and his wife Louise founded a community for abused children in New Hampshire (www.salemchildrensvillage.org)  and a school for learning disabled and ADHD kids (www.hunterschool.org).  He has lived in several states including Oregon.

The Sewell Lecture is named for Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, Minister Emerita, who retired as Senior Minister in 2009, and honors her commitment to social justice during her long tenure at the First Unitarian Church of Portland. There she served with distinction for 17 years, during which time the church grew to be one of the largest UU churches in the nation. Also during those years, she received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate for her justice work from Meadville Lombard Seminary in Chicago. Marilyn retired in 2009, was named Minister Emerita, and a social justice lecture was established in her honor. She serves on the Board and the Executive Committee of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and is on the Workers’ Rights Board of Jobs with Justice.



The First Unitarian Church of Portland Oregon is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  Unitarian Universalists adhere to 7 basic principles one of which is the goal of a World Community with Peace, Liberty, and Justice For All.  As an expression of our faith and values, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) takes positions on relevant issues of social justice.


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