By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees
Yes, the title does come from a Christmas song, and lest you think that it is way too early to be thinking about Christmas, I saw last week that Costco had replaced its camping gear section with Christmas decorations, including one item that was broadcasting some Christmas tune that had me holding my ears and making for the produce section post haste.
But premature Christmas holiday marketing aside, this time of year is one of the busiest for Westside and is full of holiday observances. When you are welcoming to all faiths, there are a lot of special days to acknowledge. And there are lots of activities besides worship services to fill up the calendar.
The kick-off event is one that is traditional in Unitarian Universalism – Water Communion – on September 3. For those of you who are not familiar with Water Communion, it is a recognition of the end of summer, a prelude to fall and a chance to welcome back people who have been away for some or all of the summer. Thus, it is also sometimes called the “ingathering.” In this service, members and friends who have traveled, as well as those who have stayed home, bring water they have collected during the summer, place it in a communal vessel and share the story of where the water came from. It’s a favorite ritual of many Westsiders. Even though the church year officially begins on July 1, for me at least, Water Communion is like a New Year’s Day celebration.
Other September services will focus on the autumnal equinox on September 17 and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in Judaism on September 24. During September, the Board of Trustees also has its annual retreat during which we will formulate plans for the coming year and ways that Westside can prepare for the social, demographic and environmental changes we face.
October will be a busy month starting with acknowledging the interdependence of life and its creatures by the blessing of the animals on October 1 and finishing by acknowledging the impermanence of life by commemorating All Soul’s Day on October 29. In between, services will touch on days dedicated to the history and rights of indigenous and LGBTQ+ people. The annual church retreat will also take place on October 14. This will be a one-day outing at Cove Lake Park where there will be opportunities for games, hiking, music and just hanging out and having fun together. I’m sure many of you wish we could have a weekend-long retreat as we have had in the past. Rest assured that the Board is actively looking for a new venue for multi-day retreats now that Pickett State Park and other parks no longer offer facilities that are available in the fall.
By the time November rolls around, the holiday season will get into high gear and it will be everything Christmas everywhere all at once. But for Westside, the big event will be the annual auction on November 11, the proceeds of which make up a substantial slice of our annual budget. The theme for this year’s auction is top secret for now, but stay tuned for details. This year, we plan to solicit input from the congregation on the kinds of items you’d like to see offered at the auction, so think about your wish list and look for a questionnaire to appear in your email.
I’m looking forward to this busy couple of months and I hope you are, too. We could even try to make them wonderful!