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Faith In Action: Distributing Congregational Member Directories — Short-term (5 minutes), Session 8: Hare's Gifts

In "Creating Home," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of your congregation's current member directory for participants to distribute
  • Optional: Poster board and markers

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide when and where the group can hand member directories to a good number of congregants. If the group meets during adult worship, you could get ready to meet congregants as they exit the worship service, or set up a table at coffee hour. If your group meets at a time apart from worship, you may decide to distribute directories only to families picking up children at the end of the session.
  • Check with congregational leaders to make sure there are no objections to the children offering member directories to non-member guests who might be present.
  • At least one week ahead, let parents know about this activity and request their permission if children's participation will stretch beyond the regular meeting time. You can download, adapt, and distribute Leader Resource 1: Member Directory Distribution Notice to Parents. Gather copies of your congregation's current member directory to distribute.
  • Optional: Plan to set up a table where children can distribute the directories. Invite a few participants to make a sign for the table.

Description of Activity

Many congregations have a member directory. Although these are updated and distributed periodically, people do lose them. New people may also need directories, and sometimes people just forget to obtain one. Offering a directory to members also may remind them to inform the congregational office if their contact information has changed or if they are not listed in the directory at all.

The congregational directory is like a microcosm of the congregation. On paper, at least, members come together. This project may help remind the congregation of the importance of recognizing one another.

Ask the children if they know the names of all the people in their Unitarian Universalist congregation. If you know how many families belong to the congregation, tell them.

Show them a member directory for the congregation. Tell them that it lists the names and phone numbers of people who belong to the congregation and (if this is the case) others connected to the congregation by friendship, by music, or another way. Tell them people can use the directory to get in touch with others to plan worship and other activities together, or to see how to spell someone’s name and address, to send that person a card if he/she is sick or it is their birthday. Maybe children can think of more uses for the directory.

Pass a directory around. Let children look to see if their family is listed. You can help them find their own names.

Explain why someone in the congregation might not have a directory. Tell the group your plan for distributing the directories. You may wish to assign particular children responsibilities such as making a sign, carrying directories to the distribution spot, staffing a table, or walking through coffee hour to offer directories to adult members.

FAITH IN ACTION: SHOWING OUR APPRECIATION – LONG-TERM (5 MINUTES)

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITY

¨     Copies of parent permission form for all participants. Customize your congregation’s standard form to provide day, date, start and end times, and locations for both of this project’s activities.

PREPARATION FOR ACTIVITY

  • Read the Description of Activity carefully, and come up with some ideas for projects to help children witness and appreciate people working together to create community in your city or town.
  • Contact another house of faith in your community. Identify a religious educator or team there to whom you can propose working together on a project that children of the same age from both faith homes can do together. Share the ideas you have come up with.
  • With the other religious educator(s), design a project for the children to do. The project should include a meeting at one or the other faith home for children to prepare for the project, and another meeting in a community setting to do the project.
  • With the other religious educator(s), make detailed plans and divide tasks. Plan to check in with your partners several days before each time the children meet.
  • Schedule a time for one group of children to visit the other group, in one or another faith home. Secure parental permissions and arrange for adult volunteers to help with transportation, refreshments, and supervision.
  • Schedule a second meeting time and place for the actual project. Again, secure parental permissions and necessary help with transportation and supervision.
  • Have one adult take responsibility for securing any necessary permission and instructions for bringing children to the community setting you have chosen. This person should gather and share key information such as the availability of parking, wheelchair accessibility, availability of rest rooms, and how the children are welcome to participate.
  • Customize your congregation’s standard parental permission form. Include the days, dates, start and end times, and locations for both meetings. You may like to provide some information to parents about your partner school or organization.

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY

Introduce the project you have designed to help the children see and appreciate adults working together to co-create our communities, while they, themselves, work together with other children who represent the diversity that exists in your city or town.

Tell the group they will do a project with children from another faith home in their community. The project will be a way for both groups of children to see one example of people co-creating community. Explain that your city, town, or the cluster of towns your congregation serves is a large community with many people linked together in their daily life. People who belong to this Unitarian Universalist faith home also belong to this bigger community, a town (or city or region) that includes many other people. The people who share the larger community may share schools, libraries, parks, post offices, grocery stores, and other places. Tell the children this project will give them a chance to learn more about why working together is important for a community, and to show appreciation for the people who do it.

You may say, in your own words:

Just like the community that Hare made, our community has people working together. Every day, people in our community work together to build homes, share food, teach children in school, have parties, and do many other things. People working together make sure we get letters and postcards at our homes, go to school, have clean and safe playgrounds to play on, and much more.

Invite children to give examples of people working together in the community. You may prompt them with examples of the workers who collect trash, people who work at a restaurant, the doctors, nurses, and assistants at a doctor’s office, or the adults who set up food for coffee hour or sing in a choir at your faith home.

Tell the children the name of the church, temple, synagogue, or mosque you will work with and any other details you know about the project. If you have permission forms for parents, distribute these now, or tell children (and their parents) to look for them on email.

Identify a religious educator or team working with the same age group at another faith home in your community. Choose a faith home with a population that differs from your own in ethnicity, race, religious beliefs, class, or another way. Propose working together on a two-stage project. First, have the two groups of children meet, play a game or two together, and prepare for the actual project. At a later date, convene the two groups again to do the actual project, out in the community.

Decide the community project together with the other religious educator(s). It could be very simple, such as serving cookies or other refreshments to people working on behalf of the community. One setting might be a polling place during an election. You might put cookies in small bags and pass them out to voters coming out of the polls. Thank voters for doing their part to help co-create a better community. You could also pass out bags to the poll workers.

If no elections are happening soon, you can appreciate others who work to make your community a better place. Pick two public schools, from diverse areas of towns – possibly one near your congregation and one near your partner congregation. Bring refreshments to the schools and serve them to the teachers and staff. Help children understand that though these might not be their teachers or their schools, these public workers contribute toward making our community a better place and hence we all benefit from their work.

These are just two examples. There are many other public servants whom you could honor. Be prepared with several possible scenarios before proposing the idea to a partner from another faith home, and be open to ideas he/she may suggest. You may both like to engage the children in brainstorming project ideas.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.

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