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Faith In Action: Brainstorming Action (15 minutes), Session 1: Introducing Amazing Grace: Exploring Right And Wrong

In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide with your co-leaders which of three approaches to use for Faith in Action.

Description of Activity

Youth brainstorm ideas for future Faith in Action activities.

The Faith in Action sections of Amazing Grace invite participants to express their Unitarian Universalist faith through active support of or opposition to causes as they relate to our Unitarian Universalist Principles.

There are at least three different approaches your group could take with Faith in Action. In the congregational approach, the group would work with members of your congregation on social justice projects that already exist. This could include monthly rotation at a homeless shelter or annual holiday gift giving to needy families. In the community approach, your group would identify and work for or against local community causes that they consider to be demonstrably virtuous or sinful. This could mean anything from helping at a local animal shelter to working against commercial attempts to convert public recreational land into a mall. In the group approach, your group would work on a different Faith in Action activity at every meeting. These would be original activities that are tied into the specific theme of each session.

In each session of Amazing Grace, you will find all you need to plan an activity with the group approach. If you, your co-leader, and the youth decide to use either the congregational approach or community approach, you will want to investigate far in advance what opportunities already exist and be prepared to offer them during today's Faith in Action.

First, however, you should take some time to explain the concept of Faith in Action as suggested below.

As written, the following activity and the Faith in Action segments of other sessions assume that you will be taking the Group Approach. Each session offers a fresh activity that can be done independently of the Faith in Actions from other sessions. If your youth become excited about a particular Faith in Action project, consider sticking with it and building on it throughout Amazing Grace. This session may offer a good starting point for such a project. Youth will brainstorm Faith in Action ideas and then agree on the most promising. If the youth come up with good ideas and seem excited about following through, then by all means help them to do so in future sessions. Asking for their ideas and then not using them would get things off to a poor start.

Begin the activity by explaining to participants that each session of Amazing Grace has a time called Faith in Action. Offer additional ideas like the following, adapting them to the apparent interests and maturity of your group:

Our faith is our activity we do to make meaning. Faith is our spiritual or religious belief. It grows out of our religion and our own personal ideas. Our faith is what we trust or know to be true. 

Unitarian Universalists believe they should act on their ideas, act to make the world a better place. They want more good, or virtuous, stuff, and less bad, or sinful, stuff, so they work for justice or social action. Reading 471 in Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, says "service is [our] prayer." Some people think prayer means talking to God or to the Great Mystery, and it can mean that. However, if we say "service is [our] prayer" we mean that social action is a way we connect with God or with the great mystery of all existence.

Therefore, Unitarian Universalists are involved in social action. That is why we will talk about Faith in Action every time we meet for Amazing Grace.

Invite the group to brainstorm ways they can make the world a better place by trying to increase rightful actions or decrease wrongful ones. The ways can be simple or complicated. No one is going to disagree with anybody's ideas because this is brainstorming. Every idea is worth thinking about. The group will come up with all the ideas it can, so that they can choose the ones they want to try. As you proceed with Faith in Action, be aware that your group may disagree about what is virtuous and what is sinful and may need to spend time coming to consensus.

Although such discussion might seem to waste valuable moments that you think could be better used in action, it may also be central to the purpose and goals of Amazing Grace, which is a program that encourages youth to make their own decisions. It also reflects our Principles, which say we believe in the democratic process. So do not cut these interactions short if you can avoid it. Use consensus if you can, and votes only if you must. With consensus, everybody wins. With votes, some people win but others lose.

If the brainstorming begins slowly, consider making some general suggestions, such as improving things at school, thinking about television shows with questionable content, or wrestling with typical problems of youth in grades six through eight: getting schoolwork done, dealing with bullies, having disagreements with parents, and so on. You could also suggest the ideas in the Faith in Action sections of this program.

If the group decides on issues of interest to consider at future sessions, that is fine, but make some specific plans for exploring the current project further. Ask if youth as well as leaders will research the topic and bring information to the next session. Consider asking an outsider to visit the group and talk about the chosen subject. If the group does not choose a topic to pursue, say that the leaders will prepare a Faith in Action activity for the next session. If participants have some ideas of their own to offer later on, the group can talk about those, too. Then move on to your closing.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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