chalice with rainbow flame
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County

Flower Communion

The Flower Communion service, celebrated annually by many Unitarian Universalist churches, originated at the Prague Congregation of Liberal Religious Fellowship founded in February 1922 by Norbert Čapek and his wife Maja.   Initially, the Prague services were entirely lectures.   Singing of hymns (written by Čapek) was added in October 1922.   The majority of members had formerly belonged to the Roman Catholic church (the state-sponsored church of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), had left that church when Czechoslovakia became independent, and were wary of any ritual reminiscent of the mass.   The Čapeks, seeking to add a suitable spiritual dimension to the service, devised the Flower Communion, which was first celebrated on June 24, 1923.   Each member was asked to bring a single flower to the service, which began with the flowers being placed in a large vase in the middle of the hall.   As explained in the sermon, the flowers symbolized the members, each unique and free, joining together in fellowship and accepting each other regardless of their differences.   At the end of the service, each member was to take one flower "just as it comes without making any distinction where it came from and whom it represents, to confess that we accept each other as brothers and sisters without regard to class, race, or other distinction, acknowledging everybody as our friend who is human and wants to be good."

Maja Čapek introduced the Flower Communion to the United States in the spring of 1940 at the First Parish Church in Cambridge.   It is now widely celebrated by Unitarian Universalist congregations everywhere.   Many follow the tradition of making it the last service of the church year, before summer vacation.   Others have it at Easter time (though Maja Čapek disapproved of having it then.).   In many churches it is also an occasion of remembrance of Dr. Čapek.   In many churches, the Flower Communion is an intergenerational service; in some, the children distribute the flowers to the members of the congregation.   In the First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, NY, the unity of the congregation is emphasized by a joining of hands at the time of the consecration of the flowers.

(If your church or society has a variation on the Flower Communion service, or a special Flower Communion prayer or reading that you would like to share with others, please let us know. )