Gifts for the Journey
A Farewell Ceremony for Rev. Antonia Won — June 25, 2017
Aaron Coe: It is now time for us formally to let go of one another. In our free churches, there is perhaps no bond more sacred than the bond between a minister and the congregation that has chosen him or her to serve them. This is because a minister’s power and authority come not from on high, but from the hearts and minds of those they serve. The installation of a congregation’s minister is a way of recognizing the beginning of that relationship, so it is only right and fitting that we have a ceremony to recognize its ending.
Rev. Antonia: You have offered me your free pulpit. In gratitude for this gift, I offer sage to symbolize the wisdom that comes from creating meaningful worship together, rooted in a rich spiritual life. I hereby return the ministry of worship to your able hands. Use it to speak the truth in love to one another. May this loving truth be a source of joy and gladness for you.
Congregation: We thank you for your service in our pulpit. We accept its power of freedom for ourselves, and release you from your service as worship leader.
Rev. Antonia: You have welcomed me into the transitional moments of your lives, times of sorrow and of joy. In gratitude for this gift you have given me, I offer the herb rosemary for remembrance of comfort given and joys celebrated together. I hereby return the ministry of pastoral care to your hands. Use it to comfort and to celebrate the milestones of your lives ~ with compassion and care.
Congregation: We thank you for the pastoral care you have offered us. We accept its power of compassion for ourselves and release you from your service as pastoral caregiver.
Rev. Antonia: You have asked me to serve as chief administrator of this congregation, as a professional religious leader. In gratitude for this gift you have given me, I offer thyme as a symbol of our time and experience together. I hereby return the administration of this congregation to you. May you guide yourselves with courage and wisdom into a strong and sure future.
Congregation: We thank you for your professional leadership. We accept its power of vision and knowledge and release you from your service as professional leader.
Rev. Antonia: For the past few years we have lit this candle with its twin spirals to symbolize our ministry together. The candle has burned down, and our time has run out. Therefore, to symbolize the fact that our respective ministries will continue separately, the president and I will now light these two candles from it. This one symbolizes your ministry. This one symbolizes my ministry. Our ministries will not die but will continue separately. I release you from our covenant with one another. Go your way in peace, in truth, and in love.
Congregation: We release you from our covenant with one another. May you also go your way in peace and in truth ~ embraced by our love.
Amy Falkenrath: As with all living things, the life of our religious community is fluid ~ ever changing with new lives, new visions and new possibilities. Three years ago we welcomed you, Rev. Antonia, as our minister here and we have all benefited. We have been enriched and grown as you guided us with compassion and openness through difficult times and peaceful times. However, today we must say farewell to you.
Congregation: Rev. Antonia, we are grateful that you came to practice your ministry among us. We laughed, we cried, and we grew as you blessed us with your gift for preaching. Even though you will no longer be with us, we will cherish the many memories we have shared. We will miss you and we are excited for the new adventures before you.
Amy: In order to facilitate a gentle and harmonious transition toward a new beginning, we enter into a ceremony of ‘releasing’ for us all.
Board President: Do you, the members and friends of the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of Central Oregon, now release Reverend Antonia Won from her role as minister of this Fellowship?
Congregation: We do.
Board President: Reverend Antonia, do you release this Fellowship from turning to you for ministry and guidance?
Rev. Antonia: I do.
Board President: Reverend Antonia Won, you are hereby released from your ministry of the UUFCO Congregation.
Amy: It is with grateful hearts that we thank you for all that you have given us. You have truly been a blessing of hope for our future. Let it be the circle of our love and the spirit of our community that will surround you always.
Board President: Let us join together in this blessing for Rev. Antonia Won:
Congregation: May you find joy and happiness in the wondrous possibilities before you. May you be nourished and sustained by the love and gratitude of all those who have known you and those yet to know you. And may you find peace and kindness in every day.
Board President & Amy: Blessed be.
Adapted from other Unitarian Universalist Congregations by James Simmons