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Activity 1: Conundrum Corner

Activity time: 7 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Supplies for Conundrum Corner, as described in the Opening materials list

Preparation for Activity

  • Be sure that the Conundrum Corner is set up and that participants have a chance to look at it before you begin.

Description of Activity

This activity introduces youth to the basic Unitarian belief that God is one rather than a trinity.

Ask what anybody thinks the message in the Conundrum Corner says. Confirm or explain that it reads as "three equals one." (The message is in the form of a mathematical statement, but you do not need to make a point of that.)

Then ask, "How can that be? How can three equal one? And what can this possibly have to do with right and wrong or with this sixth-grade group?" After brief discussion, explain with words like these:

In 325 AD, a church council gathered in Nicea to settle what Christians believed about God and Jesus. Christians disagreed on the nature of Jesus: Was he divine and equal to God, or a very wise human teacher? The Council of Nicea decided that God exists as three beings in one -Father (God), Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit (a helping spirit with no physical form). 

In the 1500s, some Christians publicly disagreed. They said that God could not be in three parts; God was one - a unity, not a trinity. That is what the message in the Conundrum Corner shows, that three are really one. In the year 1600, in a part of Europe named Transylvania, these Christians were the first who called themselves Unitarians. And so the Unitarian religion was born. That was three and a half centuries before the Unitarian and Universalist religions joined into the denomination we know today.

Ask if the youth think this "anti-trinitarian" belief was right or wrong, virtuous or sinful. Accept some comments and then tell how people reacted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries:

Most Christians in those days thought that believing in the trinity was the right thing to do and that believing in anything else was the wrong thing. They said that arguing against the existence of the trinity was a terrible sin. In Geneva, Switzerland, in 1553, they burned to death a man named Michael Servetus because he was an anti-trinitarian. That is what the matches near the sticks in the Conundrum Corner symbolize.

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