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Activity 1: History Chain

Activity 1: History Chain
Activity 1: History Chain

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Construction paper in two contrasting colors, scissors, and a marker
  • Transparent tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut construction paper into 3x12-inch strips. Make 21 strips in one color and 6 in the other color.
  • Number the 21 strips of paper for the centuries, starting with 0 on the first strip. Write 100 on the second strip, and continue by 100s to 2000. Use large numbers.
  • Write these numbers on the 6 strips of paper in the other color: 200, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, and 1900.

Description of Activity

This activity gives children a visual representation of the extent of our Unitarian Universalist history.

Gather participants in a standing circle. Say, in your own words:

We will talk about Unitarian Universalist history today. Unitarians and Universalists used to belong to two separate religions. Unitarian history goes back to the 1500s and Universalist ideas began in the 3rd century-the 200s. Does anyone know what year we are today? What century is this?

Tell the children they will make a time line that goes way back to the beginning of our Unitarian Universalist history. Explain they will tape paper links together in order. Tell them each link represents 100 years.

Pass the 21 links, in order, to the participants around the circle. Help them use tape to link their strips together into a chain. Keep the group on track in terms of linking the strips in order. The "2000" link and the "0" link should not be linked. When the chain is done, have participants stretch into one long line, being careful not to pull the chain too tight. Move along the chain from "0" to "2000" and attach the 6 alternate-color strips to the matching years on the long chain.

Explain to the participants that the chain is the time line for Unitarian and Universalist history and explain that the rings in the different color mark important times in our history. Say that although there are many significant dates, we are just going to point out a few. While pointing to the appropriate year link, say, in your own words:

(200 - the 3rd century)

In this century, a person first introduced the idea that everyone would go to heaven, no matter what a person did during their life. This person believed no one would be punished forever after death. This was called Universal Salvation and it is where the name Universalist came from. Some people were upset by that idea. I wonder why?

Allow participants time to answer.

(1500 - the 16th century)

In this century, some people said that God was three beings, a father, a son, and a holy spirit; but other people thought God was just one being and they were called anti-Trinitarians. That is where the name Unitarian eventually came from because "uni" means "one."

(1700 - the 18th century)

In this century, the first Universalist church in America was established. It was located in Massachusetts, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

(1800 - the 19th century)

In this century, the American Unitarian Association was founded.

(1900 - the 20th century)

In this century, the Unitarians and Universalists joined together to form what we are called today, Unitarian Universalists.

Allow time for comments and questions.

Now process the exercise with the following:

  • Is the chain longer than you would have thought?
  • Can you figure out how many centuries old our religion is?
  • If someone asked you how long there have been Unitarians or Universalists, what would you say?
  • Can you remember one early belief of the Universalists?
  • What belief was central to Unitarians a long time ago?

Display the chain in the remaining sessions to remind the children of our history.

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