First Unitarian Society of Ithaca

Sunday Services 10:30 am

Corner of Buffalo & Aurora St.

Ithaca, NY

A welcoming spiritual home for religious free thinkers

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at Sage Chapel at 5:15 AND 8:00 PM - arrive early!

Event Date: 
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 - 5:15pm - 9:00pm

Please join the greater-Ithaca community in these traditional candlelight services at Sage Chapel on the Cornell Campus. The services begin at 5:15 and 8:00 p.m. The Chapel holds approximately 700 people but you may want to arrive early to enjoy the chimes concert and to assure yourself of a seat. We will have wonderful music brought to us by our organist Stephanie Ortolano, the Fingerlakes Flutes at 5:15 p.m., our Christmas Eve Choir led by Jennifer Lawrence Birnbaum at 8:00 p.m., chimes concerts by Gretchen Ryan and Keith Jenkins and a number of recorder and oboe players.

Parking Near Sage Chapel
For those of you driving onto campus for the service, please refer to the attached file to see where you might park. Also, please note that OFFICIALLY the campus is open to 4:30 PM so you should check with parking booth personnel about where it is best to park for the 5:15 PM service if you arrive very early.

Need a Ride to One of the Christmas Eve Services?
Just call Margaret Nichols at (607) 273-3772. To make sure a ride can be arranged, please do call at least 24 hours in advance. We’ll aim to get to Sage Chapel half an hour before the service begins (that is, at 4:45 for the 5:15 service, or 7:30 for the 8:00 service).

The next Board of Trustees Meeting

Event Date: 
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 13, from 7-9 PM in the Parlor.  All are welcome to attend.

Agenda -   TBA


From Where I Sit

When I hear the word “tradition” I also think I hear “…and we’ve always done it this way” in the same breath. Tradition is sacrosanct, inviolable and never changing. That’s what makes it a tradition, right? Well, I think it depends upon whom you ask and which tradition is being discussed. What about our long-standing tradition of the Water Ceremony dating all the way back to…. 2005.
Yes, it has only been 10 years since we first adopted that practice and yet it has evolved and morphed and it has been celebrated at least eight different ways over the years. Judging from the numerous comments that I’ve heard this year, I would gauge that the Celebrations Committee’s decision to challenge us to limit our narrative of our water’s significance to 7 words, a rousing success. Others may disagree. In fact, experience tells me that there are more than a few who wish we did it “the old way”.
And how about the Unitarian Universalist’s “third rail” – Joys and Sorrows? We first saw this ritual appear during our service on October 19, 1997, during the interim year of the Rev. Herb Adams when it was called “Joys and Concerns”. The name was changed at some point in the hopes that the topics to be shared would be of a very personal and private nature and not what others might think of as either political or an announcement of an event in which they were to be involved. Some guest speakers have decided not to even include Joys and Sorrows in the program, as they don’t care for that portion of the Sunday celebration. And yet others feel that this sharing with one another is the best part of Sunday morning; it opens a window into the inner lives of their fellow UUs. And still others would remind us that we cannot really know what constitutes one person’s joy or sorrow. A political upset may truly be devastating or completely invigorating for another person, worthy of a candle lighting.
So what do we do with an 18 year old tradition that causes such varied responses? Does being a venerable tradition automatically make it carved in stone, at least as far as its inclusion in the Order of Service goes? What is it about this ritual that makes it so important to some? What values or intrinsic significance does it contain? Can we possibly honor the wishes of all? This tradition, although fraught with potential conflict, is another way that can help us articulate what is a weighty and significant part of our Sunday morning worship. I am humbled, yet again, by the careful deliberations of folks who are looking to allow differing voices to be heard. After the December14th Celebration there was the first (of many?) “Sunday Conversation in the Arch Room” where people were given the opportunity to learn more about social justice issues and events that weigh heavily on the hearts of so many. It seems like another creative solution or option that we are working on. Perhaps we should consider one of our newest traditions to be thinking outside of the box.

Mark Pedersen, Congregational Administrator

Best of Ithaca 2014: Ithaca Times Readers Vote For Their Favorite Places

Best-Looking House of Worship: First Unitarian Church

Designed by architect William Henry Miller, who also designed over 70 other buildings in Ithaca, the home of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca dates back to 1893. Originally, the church was supposed to have a pyramidal roof, but a tall steeple was erected instead, ostensibly so that students could not miss seeing it. Over the years, the Unitarian empire has spread to adjoining buildings on North Aurora and East Buffalo streets, but the main church building, renovated in the 1990s is an imposing architectural gem and a downtown landmark.

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