The Flaming Chalice
Many congregations light a flame inside a chalice at the opening of Unitarian Universalist services.
This flaming chalice has become a well-known symbol of our denomination. It unites our members in fellowship and symbolises the spirit of our work.
The chalice represents community, familiarity, and love as a vessel that can be shared with others. As a drinking vessel it can also refer to sustenance (physically, spiritually or otherwise).
The flame commonly represents courage, illumination and truth, and sacrifice. Fire is a widely used religious symbol around the world, representing such things as goodness, guidance, hope, protection and purity. Candles are often lit all over the world to represent prayers.
Some say the symbol of the chalice is the light of truth held in the warm embrace of community.
The flaming chalice symbol is credited to Hans Deutsch, who assisted Jews and other undesirables flee Nazi Europe during World War II via the Unitarian Service Committee. The symbol was devised to help members of the USC recognize each other as they moved clandestinely across Europe.