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Mural Wall

The UUCE mission is to be a vibrant and inclusive religious community.

We INSPIRE personal and spiritual growth. We CONNECT in fellowship and service. We ACT for Peace and Justice

Mural Notes for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie:

The Looking Glass Art Project

Looking Glass artists Ed Grout and Tom Ferraro led members of the congregation through workshops designed to develop a visual narrative for a 45-foot mural in the Olympia Brown room, our community gathering space at the congregation. Each week, the group focused on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism:

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, Equity, and Compassion in human relations
  3. Acceptance of one another, & encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience, & the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community, with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of life, of which we are a part

as well as the mission of our congregation: Inspire personal & spiritual growth: Connect in fellowship & service; Act for peace & justice.

Participants engaged in stories and visual exercises that informed the mural’s content. Through these workshops, formal elements such as color, shape and composition emerged. Sketches, doodles, and stories captured both individual and collective ideas for the mural.

As a result of the group’s input, the final mural encompasses the following ideas:

Our Culture, Our Commitment, Our Compass

The overall composition is a series of seven octagons connected by ribbons of color that radiate from the central flaming chalice, a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. The octagons represent the unique architecture of the Erie congregation, and the seven individual octagons reflect the Seven Principles. The ribbons radiating from the center flame represents the continuum of the universe.

Starting on the far-left side of the wall, the first octagon is symbolic of the energy of the sun and its role in sustaining life on earth. It is also representative of our region’s magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

Intersecting the sun is the second octagon, representing affinity for the arts; in particular, the importance of music to the congregation, both in worship, and as a community performance space.

Moving right, the third octagon represents both the diversity and community orientation of the congregation. The multi-colored clasped hands denote values of multiracial/multicultural community, and a multigenerational congregation that values education and mentorship.

The center mosaic flame depicts the central symbol of our faith, the flaming chalice. Here, the flame, embraced by a chalice of vines, rising from the embers of the earth, represents Universalist themes of hope and the sacred, and the Unitarian theme of the quest for truth.

Moving to the immediate right of the flame, framed in the fifth octagon is an image of a ladle and bowl passing food to an outstretched hand. This symbolizes the community service of the congregation, in particular our ongoing service project of providing lunch to the Upper Room, a community shelter in downtown Erie.

The large adjacent sixth octagon is filled with an image of the earth, surrounded by symbols of various religions of the world. These images symbolize the congregation’s concern for the environment. The interaction of the various religious symbols reinforces Unitarian Universalism’s respect for wisdom from all world religious traditions.

The seventh octagon on the far-right wall once again represents Unitarian Universalist values with respect to the elements of nature and our relationship to the natural world. The image is a scene from beaches along the Lake Erie shoreline. It serves as a reminder that here in Erie, we are located in a geographic area rich in beauty, with fresh water, beaches, forests, and an abundance of wildlife habitat.

Finally, the overall composition is connected by the radiating bands of color, reminiscent of a rainbow, denoting the congregation’s status as a Welcoming Community, affirming all genders and all sexual orientations. A large pink shaped ribbon surrounds the top of the band, forming a heart that envelops the entire composition. The heart is the symbol of love that embraces the core of the Principles and Mission of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie.