Philly Enjoyed a Splendid Installation Ceremony
Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia
On April 15, spring flowed through the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia building festooned with red azaleas, purple salvias, and tiger-eye pansies ready for our splendid day—the formal installation of our new Leader, Hugh Taft-Morales. At the end of the day he reminded us that this ceremony "recommits us to the values and mission of Ethical Humanism and to building our house together."
In his morning platform address, "Existential Faith: Choosing Ethical Culture," Hugh explained how existentialism, often portrayed as dark and depressive, helps him nurture both joy and commitment to Ethical Humanism. "I want to do the work of the world as common as mud yet full of meaning. Appreciating my limited time here helps me do this work....Existentialism helps me sort out my values."
The late afternoon Installation Ceremony brought together Society members and friends, with the vast network of Hugh's past connections. Included were his family, his close friends as far back as college and as far away as Quebec and Colorado, and members of the Washington Ethical Society (WES) who nurtured his growing commitment to Ethical Humanism, first as an active member and President, and then as a Leader-in-Training and finally as a Leader. Also attending were seven Ethical Culture Leaders, both mentors and colleagues.
Presided over by the Society's President Temma Fishman, the ceremony was full of music, words, ceremonial readings, and the signing of the Act of Installation. The event celebrated both the intellect and spirit of our Society's formal acknowledgment of Hugh's leadership, and our willingness to move forward with him in bringing out the best in Ethical Humanism.
From Kasia Marzec-Salwinski's piano Prelude and the rousing Finlandia sung by all, to the music performed throughout by the Washington Ethical Society Chorus under the direction of Bailey Whiteman, the auditorium was filled with sound: the Wailin' Jennys This Is the Sound of One Voice
, You Are the New Day
(John David, arr. By Peter Knight), and finally a rousing sing-a-long of With a Little Help from My Friends
(John Lennon and Paul McCartney) that concluded the ceremony.
Kate Esposito and Lyle Murley brought passion and meaning to Marge Piercy's poem, "To Be of Use," that introduced the central value of Hugh's leadership. WES Leader for Congregational Life Mary Herman recalled her experiences with Hugh over the years as WES member and later Leadership training classmate concluding, "You chose as your Leader one of the most gifted Leaders in our Movement....a true gentleman of deep ethical insight, uncompromising values, abundant gifts and vision." Susan Rose, Dean, American Ethical Union Leadership Training Program, remembered receiving a paper from Hugh on his experiences teaching in Guatemala and being unable to put aside his haunting description of Guatemalan families living in garbage dumps that Hugh and his family helped for seven months. Envisioning Ethical Leadership for the future, Joe Chuman, Leader of the New York Society of Ethical Culture, spoke directly to Hugh: "We know you as a person who is very smart, extremely clear thinking, and admirably industrious. But, perhaps most of all, as someone who truly understands what Ethical Culture is about, and beyond that understanding is supremely dedicated to it heart, mind, and soul." He went on to praise the Philadelphia Society for organizing an installation ceremony "that dignifies the office of Ethical Leadership, and thereby dignifies the stature and importance of the Philadelphia Ethical Society."
Leader Hugh Taft-Morales and Temma Fishman, President of the EHSoP, receive The Act of Installation from Bertha Waters, the first of a four generation family of Ethical Culturists
In the solemn part of the ceremony facilitated by Jeff Dubb, Bertha Waters, the first generation of a four-generation family of Ethical Culturists, presented the Act of Installation to Temma. Members read their commitment to Hugh in unison, and Hugh made his promise to serve our community as leader. Hugh and Temma then signed the document. After members add their signatures, the document will be prominently displayed as a reminder of the meaning of our splendid day.