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Faith In Action: Children As Part of the Congregational Community, Session 9: Looking for Signs of Community

In "Signs of Our Faith," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Leader Resource 1, Six Pillars
  • Writing instruments
  • Simple prizes

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Six Pillars of Balanced Youth Ministry on the UUA website, so you understand each pillar. For each pillar, prepare realistic examples of ways children this age can engage in the life of the congregation.
  • Obtain simple prizes, such as packets of modeling clay, wand bubbles, or small puzzles.
  • If the group is large enough (12 or more), plan how you will form small teams (two to four children) to each focus on one of the six pillars. Print the Leader Resource. Make extra copies of some of the pages if you will have more than six teams. Plan the rules for teams to compete for prizes. For example, you might challenge each team to raise their hands when they have two items for a pillar, and thereby earn a prize. If the group has fewer than 12 participants, you might have two or three teams each focus on three or two pillars, or skip the competition and lead a whole-group brainstorm on all the pillars, instead.
  • Optional: Post six sheets of newsprint. Title each with one of the pillars: Worship, Learning, Leadership, Involvement in the Congregation, Social Action, and Building Community. On each page, you might draw the outline of a pillar, to fill with the ideas children contribute.
  • Optional: Invite families to contribute photos that show children engaged in activities that correspond with each pillar. Create a photo display in your congregation. Use the title "Six Pillars" and the pillar images in Handout 1 in the display.

Description of Activity

Participants identify ways children participate in the congregational community. They understand pillars as a metaphor for the many, different, individual acts of involvement and engagement that support a faith community and strengthen the faith and connection experienced by the individuals.

Say, in these words or your own:

There are many ways young people can be involved in their faith community—their congregation. Some UUs say there are six ways, and they are sometimes called the Six Pillars. On a building, the pillars are thick posts that help hold the building up. In a faith community, pillars are different kinds of actions individual people do that can help support that community. I think children your age can be involved in some of the pillars in our congregation. Let's see which ones we are already involved with.

Show the children the papers with the names of the pillars (from the Leader Resource) or indicate the newsprint sheets you have posted. Tell the group you want them to find examples of the six pillars in the activities children do with the congregation. Explain the pillars if needed, but try not to give examples! Form teams. Give each team the same number of sheets from Leader Resource 1. Distribute writing implements.

Help all teams finish by making suggestions or playing charades for answers. When all teams have finished—or if you are doing a large group brainstorm—use the newsprint sheets to briefly document the examples they have generated. Note that many activities can represent more than one pillar.

The ways children participate will be unique to your congregation, but may include:

  • Worship: Attending worship services, listening to a Story for All Ages, singing in a choir, lighting the chalice, holiday pageants
  • Learning: Attending a religious education program, talking with their family about what they did in RE, reading the Family pages in UU World, finding out about UU ancestors, mentoring a younger child, interviewing a congregational elder
  • Social Action: Helping at a soup kitchen, collecting food or clothing, helping to distribute boxes or collect money for Guest at Your Table, doing Trick or Treat for UNICEF, attending a rally or protest with their family or congregation, doing a Faith in Action activity from this or another Tapestry of Faith curriculum
  • Building Community: Playing with others in a playroom or playground at the congregation, regular attendance in the religious education program, attending congregational events such as a Halloween party or Solstice ceremony, joining a parent/child book group, inviting friends to visit the congregation
  • Leadership: Lighting the chalice in a worship service, being a Sunday morning greeter, picking up trash or doing other tasks to keep the building and grounds neat and clean, any of the Leadership in Action activities from this program
  • Congregational Involvement: Being a greeter, participating in worship services, singing in a choir, distributing the order of service, setting up tables and chairs for potlucks, spending time with youth and adults at coffee hour, getting to know the staff, participating in Joys and Concerns, participating in Child Dedication services and other special services.

Variation

Collect, or take, photos of children doing a few activities for each pillar in the congregation. Post six newsprint pillars on the wall and invite children to match the photos to the pillars.

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 Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

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