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Charter for Compassion Religious Education Art Project
Charter for Compassion Religious Education Art Project
General Assembly, International Engagement & Building Peace, International Opportunities

Background Information on “Charter for Compassion”

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is one among a diverse group of interfaith religious organizations that have partnered with the "Charter for Compassion" community. This collaborative effort seeks to be a witness to the centrality of compassion in all of the world's religions—and to help build a more "peaceful and harmonious global community" through that witness.

One of the key leaders of this effort is Karen Armstrong—a theologian that many Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have come to appreciate for her interfaith understanding. She has written books that appear on many UU bookshelves including "The History of God" and "Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths". However, the "Council of Sages" for the Charter for Compassion also includes Sheikh Ali Gomaa (the Grand Mufti of Egypt), Rabbi David Saperstein (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism), Sadhvi Chaitanya (spiritual leader of the Arsh Vijnaya Mandiram ashram), and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (retired Archbishop of Cape Town, SA).

The Charter for Compassion website explains that:

The Charter does NOT assume:

  • All religions are the same
  • Compassion is the only thing that matters in religion
  • Religious people have a monopoly on compassion

The Charter DOES affirm that:

  • Compassion is celebrated in all major religious, spiritual and ethical traditions
  • The Golden Rule is our prime duty and cannot be limited to our own political, religious or ethnic group
  • Therefore, in our divided world, compassion can build common ground

In November 2009 the finalized version of the Charter for Compassion will be "Launched" in a major event. Religious people from around the world are invited to join in this launch by sponsoring special events and activities. UU congregations are welcome to participate in any way that they choose. Please post your plans at the Charter for Compassion website, and let the UUA know what you’re planning to do as well: international [at] uua [dot] org, subject line: "Charter for Compassion event."

Or, congregations are welcome to use the following lesson plan as a religious education (RE) activity related to the Charter for Compassion Launch. Please adapt the lesson plans to your congregation's context.

A “Charter for Compassion” Religious Education Art Project

A one or two-day opportunity for religious education classes to learn about the “Charter for Compassion” and create a work of Art that expresses their understanding of “Compassion”

First Sunday



Lesson Plan

  1. Begin with a chalice lighting using a reading from the ICUU Global Chalice Lighting series.
  2. Introduce the idea of a global community of Unitarian Universalists. Ask participants if they know where there are U/U groups around the world. Explore the map (attached). See if participants have visited any of the countries where there are UU groups. What was their visit like?
  3. Introduce the idea of the global interfaith community by describing the World Conference of Religions for Peace and the role of Unitarian Universalists in creating it. (If age-appropriate and you have time, show the RFP-International introductory video.)
  4. Introduce information about the Charter of Compassion. If you have the time and an internet connection, visit the “Charter for Compassion” website. Have a discussion about the ideas that the Charter does not assume, and the ideas that it affirms (above).
  5. Explore the different religious statements known as the Golden Rule. Discuss which statements participants like best, and why. Ask for experiences of the Golden Rule in action. Discuss whether participants think the Golden Rule can make a difference in the world.
  6. Explain that next Sunday the group will be creating a work of art based on the Golden Rule. It could be a painting, a collage, a banner, a clay sculpture, or whatever medium preferred. Help the group decide what kind of Art project they’d like to create. For help with specific art project ideas, please contact the UUA: international [at] uua [dot] org, subject line: "Charter for Compassion event."
  7. Ask each participant to gather information about a non-U.S. U/U group before the next session and prepare to report back to the group. Begin the search on our page for U/U Judicatories. Also, invite participants to bring any art materials they’d like to use in next week’s Art project with them.
  8. Closing: Extinguish the chalice while singing “Go, Now, In Peace.”

Second Sunday


  • Develop a flexible plan for creating the art project.
  • Gather materials.


Lesson Plan

  1. Begin with a chalice lighting. For a reading ask, each person to read a different interfaith version of the Golden Ruleas introduced on the 1st Sunday.
  2. Ask participants to describe what they have learned about different U/U groups around the world.
  3. Discuss how all of these groups create a global U/U web of compassion. And, that together they contribute to a global interfaith movement for compassion and peace.
  4. Create the art project discussed last week.
  5. Take photographs of the project and the participants. Be sure to send them to the UUA's International Office: international [at] uua [dot] org, subject line: “Charter for Compassion event.”
  6. Closing: Join hands and go around the circle with each person saying one word to describe “compassion.”

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