Joy abounds at revival, bridging ceremony
“‘God’ is not a noun, it’s a verb!” declared song leader Nick Page at the start of the “New Epiphany Revival,” which took place just before the “Synergy Bridging Ceremony” at the UUA General Assembly Friday evening.
“New Epiphany,” Page said, is “the unlimited magnificence of an interdependent, self-organized universe.”
Revival attendees cheered, sang, and danced along with the many songs offered by Page and the six singers who joined him on stage. Among the musical selections was a song in praise of bacteria with the lyrics, “I’m a single cell mama. I’ve got the blue green blues.”
After teaching the song, “Sweet Honey in the Rock,” Page encouraged attendees to sing it in harmony. “It should not be in four-part harmony,” said Page. “It should be in thousand-part harmony.”
The revival transitioned to the Synergy bridging service, which honors the transition of UU youth into young adulthood, with a band of musicians playing a trumpet, clarinet, trombone, and drum leading the service leaders onto the stage.
To symbolize the transition from one life stage to another, the chalice was lit by a flame that passed from the candles of four people from different generations.
Cathy Rion said that Unitarian Universalism’s foundations were built on young people such as Michael Servetus who wrote his pivotal theological critique On the Errors of the Trinity at the age of 20. “Our young people lead the way,” said Rion.
The Rev. William Sinkford, former UUA president, reflected on his experiences with Liberal Religious Youth in the 1970s. “We believed we could create the beloved community in our world and in our faith.”
Being a part of LRY also shaped the life of the Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, president of Meadville Lombard Theological School. Remembering when he was nominated, much to his surprise, to be a youth leader for LRY, Barker said, “This is how youth empowerment worked. My peers saw something in me I did not see and then forced me to see it.”
Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward shared her experiences growing up in the Young Religious Unitarian Universalist program. “YRUU saved us,” Rueters-Ward said. “YRUU taught us we did not need a faith that is liberal, we need a faith that is revolutionary.”
Speaking directly to the youth, Rueters-Ward said, “We are ready to be your adult allies. Not because you are the future of Unitarian Universalism, but because you are and have always been its present.”
According to Janamanchi, the bridging ritual symbolizing the passage from youth to adulthood began in the late 1990s.
Seventeen youth passed between two lines of facing adults. The adults waved their hands over the youth as they passed beneath the archway of arms.
Carey MacDonald offered some final thoughts to the newly recognized young adults onstage. “When we look at you, we see a vision of a world transformed,” MacDonald said.