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Faith In Action: Changing Lives, Session 2: Religion to the Rescue

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Newspaper ads and flyers, especially those with items appealing to sixth graders
  • Paper and pencils/pens
  • Optional: Information about prospective borrowers, from the Kiva website
  • Optional: Computer with Internet connection
  • Optional: Information about congregational and other local social justice programs

Preparation for Activity

  • Post blank newsprint.
  • Optional: Invite a member of your congregation's social justice committee to meet with the group.
  • Optional: Explore the Kiva website.

Description of Activity

Remind the group of today's Big Question: "What are we?" Say in your own words:

Unitarian Universalists answer that question partly by their actions. When UUs work for economic justice, they are acting out the second UU Principle. When UUs help save human, animal and plant lives, or work to keep balance in the environment, they are acting out our seventh Principle.

In this session, you could initiate plans for an ongoing Faith in Action project and/or engage the youth in conversation with a social justice activist in your congregation. You may find ideas that will work for the group below under the heading "Changing a Life with Twenty-Five Dollars."

Ongoing Faith in Action Project

If the group will do an ongoing Faith in Action project during Riddle and Mystery, brainstorm possibilities now and choose one to pursue. Perhaps your congregation already supports an appropriate project. Working on a long range project with others in the congregation is a great way to strengthen multigenerational community.

Social Justice Visitor

Ask a member of your congregation's social justice or social action committee to join the group and talk about their projects. In advance, prepare the visitor to focus on activities that promote economic justice, particularly projects in which the youth might assist. Suggest that the visitor bring any printed material that may interest the group. If you wish, prepare the visitor to also share their own approach to Big Questions. Set a specific date and time for the visit and confirm a few days ahead.

When the visitor arrives, introduce them to the youth and explain that the visit will give them ideas for Faith in Action projects they can do during Riddle and Mystery. You might post blank newsprint and offer to assist the visitor by writing projects they mention and/or ideas, for the group to discuss. Allow time for youth to ask questions. Consider asking, if youth do not, why your visitor has become personally involved in social justice work. Ask also that the visitor respond to some big questions: Why do they think there is so much economic injustice in the world? Whose job is it to make the world more just? See if they will share their own approach to big questions like these.

Changing a Life with Twenty-Five Dollars

Challenge participants to think of ways $25 could be important in saving or dramatically changing a human life.

Form small groups of two to four. Say you want each group to think up a story about how $25 might be enough to help save a human life. When the stories are ready, the small groups will share them with each other.

Give each group paper and pencils to record their ideas if they wish. Say the stories do not have to be written or perfectly told. You are interested mostly in the general idea. Let the groups work in places where they will not overhear or interfere with each other. In ten minutes or so, bring them back together to share their ideas.

Looking at Ads. Ask whether twenty-five dollars seems like a lot of money to your youth. Point out that, whatever their answers, twenty-five dollars seem like a lot more money in some parts of the world than it does in western countries. After all, about half the people in the world live on less than two dollars a day. Hand participants recent fliers and newspaper ads describing goods that might interest many sixth graders. Ask them to spend a few minutes looking through the ads for items that cost somewhere around twenty-five dollars and are more important than changing a life. (The assumption is that they will find none. However, they might identify items, like food or medicine that can be useful in saving a life.)

Changing Lives through Kiva. Introduce the youth to the Kiva website. Consider using a laptop with Internet connections in your workshop so your group can see how the site works. Or print out and bring to the group descriptions of a few people who are looking for Kiva loans. Explain:

Kiva is an organization that lets people like you and me lend small amounts of money to others who need it to operate small businesses in other parts of the world. Kiva accepts money in amounts as small as twenty-five dollars. So Kiva is one way that twenty-five dollars can dramatically change a life.

Use a laptop or the printouts you have brought to tell the group about some of the people currently hoping to borrow money. Ask for the group's reactions. Would they like to raise money for a Kiva loan? Could some youth speak to their families about lending money through Kiva? Do some of their families already support Kiva, or another similar organization? Later, talk with your co-leaders about whether and how to follow through with the responses you have heard.

Including All Participants

Do not assume all participants or their parents think of $25 the same way. Some may think of it as "nothing" while others might view it as a considerable amount of money. Make sure you lead the group away from assumption and toward sensitivity about different financial resources in your group, the congregation and the wider world.

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 Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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