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Federated Church celebrates water communion

Published: Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Karen Hamingson pours water she collected from North Carolina and Ontario, Canada, into a bowl during a water ceremony Sunday at the Federated Church in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – Virginia Larsen finally remembered.

“I just kept forgetting to do it,” she said. But this year, when her family visited Lake Mildred in Wisconsin over the summer, she made sure her grandson got her a bottle of lake water.

Larsen was one of about 10 members of the Federated Church of Sycamore who participated in the third annual Water Communion on Rally Day last Sunday. Near the end of the service, members poured water they had gathered during summer trips into a large bowl and explained where they got it and why it was important.

According to pastor Dr. Dennis Johnson, water communion, also known as the water ceremony, was first used at a Unitarian Universalist worship service in the 1980s. It’s usually held once a year.

“In a sense, water communion symbolizes living water from many streams flowing into one larger sphere,” Johnson said. “It represents that, beyond our scattering in summer, we are brought back together as a community. The water poured together reminds us that our lives are connected to a greater good and purpose.”

Johnson suggested the service when he came to the church three years ago.

“It’s another way of saying we are a community,” he said. The congregation then blesses and sometimes boils the water to be used as holy water in child dedication ceremonies.

“I really think it’s kind of fun,” said Carol Fogle, who collected a little pill bottle full of water from Europe and Baton Rouge, La. “It’s really a neat idea.”

Sally Stevens collected water from Iowa City, where she cheered on the Northern Illinois University football team to an upset win over Iowa to kick off the 2013 season.

“I worked at NIU for 32 years,” she beamed. “I have Huskie blood.”

Stevens said the ceremony can bring people together, especially if someone has visited the same location where the water was taken.

“It opens the door to new friendships,” she said. “It’s a way to get acquainted.”

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