UUFP—Past/Present/Future: “Sanctuary”

is a collection of stories
about UUFP’s formative years and
its ensuing perseverance in purpose, mission and ministry.
Grow in Wonder – Connect in Love – Engage in Service – Inspire Generosity

It was a grand morning, that bright Spring morning, when our special guests processed into our Sanctuary for our service of dedication.  Light shone through the flaming chalice patterns inscribed on the upper windows as old and new friends greeted one another enthusiastically.  We’d actually been using our 250-seat Sanctuary for some months now, but today was the big celebration, sharing our joy with our fellow UUs across Hampton Roads, the Southern Region and the UUA.  We were looking forward in particular to hearing the UUA President preach!

Many of our guests who were participating in the service moved up the ramp to their places on the chancel, giving everyone enough elbow room without worrying whether someone on the end might fall off the platform.  Our “four seasons” tapestry hung on the wall behind the pulpit, newly cleaned and a familiar and gladly welcoming sight after all of the challenges we’d faced getting to this day.  Our chalice, donated so many decades before by Keith Dixon and now shining bright on its custom made stand, was ready, too, and waiting to be lit.  And up on the high walls, either side of the chancel, big screens showed messages of congratulations, pictures of those who were sending us their love, and reminders of the reception that would follow the service.

Then the music began.  The ChorUUs and the Winds, now both at least triple in size from only a few years before, were set up on the balcony — the choir loft, as some affectionately called it — though many members had found their preferred seating for other occasions there, too.  Everyone sitting below turned to look up and back, smiling as the rich sound filled the Sanctuary.  Technicians in the A/V booth artfully built into a back corner switched the screens to show that this was a new piece by Elizabeth Alexander, commissioned specifically for this service, and it was as glorious as the gathered company in this Sanctuary we had worked so hard to make ours.

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