A flame within a chalice (a cup with a stem and foot) is a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. Many of our congregations kindle a flaming chalice in gatherings and worships and feature the chalice symbol prominently.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the flaming chalice, including the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope.
Chalice maker, 92, lights 2012 General Assembly
Mordecai Roth lit the chalice at the beginning of Friday morning's plenary session. It was a chalice he made-but not the only one he's made.
Roth, 92, a retired dentist and a member of the UU Church of Surprise, Arizona, has made 132 chalices, most in use by UU congregations. His chalices range from 9 to 23 inches in height and feature two interlocking hoops above the chalice bowl.
The first one he made was used at General Assembly 2005 in Fort Worth. Roth made the chalice for his own church as well and now one of the pleasures of his life is going to church and beholding it each Sunday.
"I like to sit on the front row and just look at it. When I look at the details, the spaces between the elements, I think of various family members. The chalice just keeps giving back to me every Sunday." He added, "It's been a real labor of love to make these."
He said the design for the interlocking rings just kind of evolved. "Once I got started the process just took on a life of its own." He uses the "lost wax" process, where wax in a mold is replaced by hot metal. "It's not all that different a process from making a dental crown," he noted.
Roth's minister is the Rev. Dr. Walt Wieder, chair of the General Assembly Planning Committee.