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Alternate Activity 4: Learning About Confession

Activity time: 10 minutes

Preparation for Activity

  • Invite your minister or another adult in your congregation with knowledge about a religious confession or atonement practice to speak with the group. Prepare the adult to present about the religious practice clearly, briefly and without passing judgment on the practice or the beliefs it represents. The adult should be ready to explain:
    • What is the practice called?
    • What religion does it belong to?
    • How is it done? (When, where, by whom?)
    • What is its purpose?
    • What religious beliefs does it represent?
    • What positive feelings did the practice bring you, if any?

Make sure the adult knows they are not expected to be expert on anything more than what they choose to share; it is perfectly fine to tell the youth "I don't know" if they cannot answer a question.

Description of Activity

Welcome and introduce the visiting adult.

Tell the group, in your own words:

Many religions have ritual practices for confession or atonement. In religions based on a belief in God or other deities, the practices may involve confessing or apologizing to the deity for wrongs one has done. Judaism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism and other branches of Christianity have rituals of confession or atonement. Many people believe that if they confess their sins to God, or atone for wrong things they have done, God may forgive them or offer them a "clean slate" or a "fresh start." They may also believe that the act of acknowledging one's wrong actions (one's "sins" in some religions) makes one a better person, and helps the person avoid making the same mistakes again.

Ask participants to share what they know about a confession or atonement religious practice. Youth's knowledge may come from books, movies or their own experiences. Affirm their contributions, and set a tone of respectful sharing. If appropriate, remind the youth that religious practices they may have seen or heard of, however surprising to them, have meaning for the people who practice them and deserve respect.

Invite the visitor to share their knowledge about confession or atonement practices. Then, invite questions and facilitate the discussion.

Explain that Unitarian Universalism does not have practices for confession and atonement to God, but many UUs believe it is good to confess and apologize to anybody we hurt when we do wrong things. Ask the group if they agree with this idea. Do they remember doing something wrong, feeling very guilty about it and finally feeling better after admitting what they did?

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For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.

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