BUUF and UU Traditions

Water Communion

The Water Communion, also sometimes called Water Ceremony, was first used at a Unitarian Universalist service in the 1980s. Many UU congregations now hold a Water Communion once a year. At BUUF we do this at the beginning of the new year.

Members bring to the service a small amount of water from a place that is special to them. During the service, people one by one pour their water together into a large bowl. As the water is added, the person who brought it tells why this water is special to them. The combined water is symbolic of our shared faith coming from many different sources.

Our Retreats

Since its inception, BUUF has held an Annual Retreat over a weekend, commencing Friday afternoon and finishing after lunch Sunday. Every retreat has a different theme ranging from personal development to congregational planning. BUUF members and friends are often joined by visiting UUs from other ANZUUA congregations.

BUUF Retreats are an indispensable element in the life of our community, as they serve several essential purposes. Whatever it is the community needs from year to year, we gather at the Retreat to address that need. It is an intentional time to integrate new members into the community. It is a concentrated block of time to accomplish the work of the congregation. It is a time to study a new subject or reflect on old ones. It is always a time away from everyday life, where together we refresh and rejuvenate, as well as develop and deepen our friendships.

The Retreat is held in the later half of the year, typically mid-August, in a peaceful setting. For some time these have been held in a beautiful bushland setting at Springbrook, in the mountains behind the Gold Coast. The retreat begins on Friday night as members travel to the retreat site, have dinner together, settle in and prepare for the weekend.

Saturday usually includes workshops or seminars on the Retreat theme, free time to explore the bush surroundings or to rest, a dinner accompanied by entertainment, and an evening session of reflection. Sunday morning service is often based around the Flower Communion concept, with people bringing from the local forest in place of flowers, followed by a final lunch before departing.

The Retreat could be called the ultimate gathering of the Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Members, friends and newcomers join in the Retreat, and it is often our largest gathering of the year.

All Heretics Day

All Heretics Day is a day when some Unitarians celebrate our history of heresy and the freedom this has brought. All Heretics Day is celebrated on April 1st every year in memory of those who were both heroes and heretics, reformers, questioners, and seekers. They defied the religious conventions of their times and made greater choices for us all today.

A Heretic is one who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church and makes the choice to stand for those opinions. Unitarian Universalist liberal religious history is filled with prominent people who chose to speak out and stand as independent thinkers for their convictions. People like Michael Servetus, Francis David, Joseph Priestley (Unitarian minister and noted scientist who discovered oxygen), Thomas Jefferson. In Australia, our Unitarian pioneers were treated as heretics in their day – John Crawford Woods, Martha Turner, Thomas Fyshe Palmer, and Catherine Helen Spence.

Many Unitarians consider themselves to be heretics to the prevailing religious views in their societies and unlike people in other religions, think heresy is a positive thing.

Thirty years ago, Rev. Dick Weston-Jones, minister for the Christchurch NZ Unitarians, introduced this Unitarian day to Australian and New Zealand congregations to celebrate those whose courage led to our freedom to enjoy our lives and express our beliefs as we choose. Without their heresy, our freedom would be less. Some had been Unitarians, while others like Martin Luther King Jr. were not Unitarians, however lived in ways that opened our world to more freedom and love.

There is a good story about All heretics day on the ANZUUA website: https://www.anzuua.org/post/all-heretics-day-sir-robert-stout.

This list is a subset of traditions are celebrated in different gatherings around the world.