I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
— John Newton
This session introduces Amazing Grace: Exploring Right and Wrong, giving a sense of its nature, a taste of its activities, and an experience of its richly mixed learning and fun. We explore the session's core question—"What are right and wrong, virtue and sin?"—through a series of activities that includes wall-to-wall questions, creation of an artistic Garden of Eden, the story of Adam and Eve, and Ethics Play, a game included in all sessions as either an activity or an alternate activity. This session is the first in a series of four that focuses on faith as it relates to virtue and sin.
If your group is new to you and its members are unfamiliar to each other, you may need to extend the opening to allow for introductions. However, try not to spend too much time sitting and talking before beginning. The activities will engage sixth graders, ensuring they will want to return for future sessions, so get started as soon as you can.
Assess your group as you move through the activities. Is it lively enough so that you will want to use some of the "high-energy" options when possible? Is it thoughtful enough so you can give extra time to discussions or is it a combination that is likely to surprise you with mixed levels of enthusiasm and quiet attention from session to session? Every gathering of sixth graders has its own "grouponality," that is, its own range of maturity, its own special collection of personalities. That is why leading sixth-grade groups is not only challenging, but fun.
This session also introduces the Conundrum Corner, a spot where you will routinely place something puzzling for your youth to decipher when they enter the room. In this case, the object is an apple, symbolizing the story of Adam and Eve. If participants ask about it, say that they will learn the answer later. In the meantime, they are free to guess the apple's purpose. When you set up the Conundrum Corner, consider making it special, perhaps by spreading a decorative cloth over the area.
Remember the general guideline offered in the Introduction to Amazing Grace: plan tight, present loose. In other words, know exactly how you intend to fill every minute of the session, then, with everything ready, relax and go with the mood of the group and the flow of the day.
This session will:
- Introduce the spiritual underpinnings of virtue and sin
- Help participants understand the responsibilities of being free moral agents
- Bridge the gap between childhood and early adolescent understanding of morality
- Recognize how our Unitarian Universalist faith influences moral decision-making
- Demonstrate that Amazing Grace will be interesting, useful, and fun.
- Become acquainted with Amazing Grace, its leaders, and each other
- Hear the theme song "Amazing Grace"
- Start examining the sources available to help people make ethical decisions
- Reconnect with the story of Adam and Eve, one explanation for the origin of sin
- Construct a pipe-cleaner Garden of Eden
- Play roles in a hypothetical scenario in which ethical decisions are demanded
- Contribute to a democratic process to find future Faith in Action activities.
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