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Faith In Action: Ethics Covenant
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers and tape
- Optional: Posted UU Principles
- Optional: Copies of the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition
Preparation for Activity
- Decide how and how far to encourage youth to spread their ethics covenant in the follow-up to this activity.
Description of Activity
Ask youth to create and sign an ethics covenant.
Begin by asking the group "What do you think an Ethics Covenant might be?" If participants experienced Session 3, Alternate Activity 2, Covenant Making to create a group covenant, refer to that process. If not, explain, if necessary, that a covenant is an agreement, a mutual promise. Mention that the UU Principles are a covenant. In fact, the introduction to the Principles says, "We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalists Association, covenant to affirm and promote" the seven Principles.
Consider reminding the group what the Principles say by pointing to a poster containing them or by passing out copies of the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition, in which they appear (see the three unnumbered pages before the first hymn).
Say that the group's challenge is to create an ethics covenant suitable for sixth graders. In other words, how do they think youth of their age should agree to behave?
Give one sample possibility for the covenant: "We agree to be the best people we can be."
What else? Let the youth decide. Remember that youth are covenanting "to do" something and not just to believe it (i.e., "affirm AND promote"). Try to keep the covenant short and keep statements from getting too specific.
When they have completed the covenant, ask if everyone is comfortable signing it. If some participants are not comfortable, find out if there are specific statements that they feel do not belong in the covenant. If you sense any discomfort, do not ask the youth to sign it. If you feel that coming to a consensus on the covenant will be divisive, skip this activity.
Whether signed or unsigned, have a leader make copies for youth to take with them at the end of the session, if possible. This will probably require handwriting the ideas onto a sheet of paper and running it through a copier. If that is not possible, say that you will make copies and send them to the youth. Arrange to have the original covenant, signed or unsigned, displayed where other members of the congregation will see it in the days and weeks to come.
Ask the youth who else should get copies. Parents of the youth? Other religious-education groups in the congregation? The minister? Should the group publish it in the newsletter or share during a worship service?
Help the group decide how to distribute the covenant and then how to follow through.