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Activity 4: Honoring Our Unitarian Universalist Ancestors

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: Tablecloth and chalice
  • Optional: Push pins or tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Designate a space to honor one or more of our faith ancestors. It could be a shelf, wall space, or a small table. If you have a table, you may like to cover it with a tablecloth and place a chalice on it. If you will use a wall space, you might identify the space, such as by posting blank, colored construction paper, before you start this activity; also, obtain push pins or tape.
  • Optional: If you plan to use music, identify the music you would like to play and bring it to the session. Some music is suggested in the Leader Resources section.

Description of Activity

With the children, create a special place to honor our Unitarian Universalist faith ancestors.

Ask the children how many have a wall or another place in their home where family photographs are displayed. Ask if any of the photographs are old or contain images of people who have died.

Say in your own words: "Many houses have a place where families display photographs or objects that belonged to their ancestors. Sometimes, you will see a family member stop in front of this place and look at the photographs or objects. What do you think they might be thinking?"

Children may offer that a parent is remembering his/her own parents or other relatives, or that someone might be wondering about the identity of someone represented in a photograph. After some responses, invite the children to create a special place to honor our Unitarian Universalist faith ancestors.

Go to the place in your meeting space that you have chosen to be the "special place" for honoring ancestors. If you have a small table or shelf, place the objects from the three Unitarian Universalist Ancestor Boxes on the table. If you are using a wall space, invite some children to help you post items from the ancestor boxes. You may add other decorative or special objects to this place.

You might explain that an altar is a place to offer religious or spiritual gifts. Let them know that you have chosen to use this special place as an altar to honor not just Anthony, Singh, and Dickens, but all our Unitarian Universalist faith ancestors, much like the way the name stones on the labyrinth symbolize the Creating Home community.

Invite children to pick up their name stone from the labyrinth and place them gently on the special space you have created. Placing their stones symbolizes their connection to our Unitarian Universalist faith ancestors. Light the chalice. Your altar/centering table is now created.

As a variation, if you wish to make this activity more ritualized, after you show the children the table or shelf, or wall space, explain what they will do next. Put on gentle music to play in the background. (See the Leader Resources section for a suggestion of music.) As the music plays, gently place the items from the Unitarian Universalist Ancestor Boxes on the altar. Light the chalice. Then, let each child go, one at a time, to get their stone and add it to the altar. If you use the music, slowly decrease the volume after the last child has placed a stone before going on to the next activity. Be sure to blow out the chalice when you are done.

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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