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Activity 1: Story - Religious Identity in a Diverse World

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity


Preparation for Activity

  • Make copies of the story "Religious Identity in a Diverse World," two for volunteer readers and one for each leader.

Description of Activity

This activity uses the stories of two young people to explore the challenge and the importance of articulating one's faith in interaction with peers of diverse religious backgrounds.

Explain that participants will hear two personal stories about understanding and articulating faith. The first story is from Eboo Patel who, as a young person, struggled to find language to explain his Muslim faith and to understand others' faith at his religiously diverse school lunch table. Out of his journey to more powerfully understand and profess his faith came the Interfaith Youth Core, a national organization that he founded and leads.

The second story is from Mary Ellen Giess, a young Unitarian Universalist who grew up outside Philadelphia and now works for the Interfaith Youth Core.

Ask for two volunteers, one to present each story. Give them copies of the story and have them read the stories aloud.

Note that in these stories, young people did not have the language to ask questions or explain their own faith in religiously diverse settings. Therefore, differences were unexplored, questions were unasked, and deeply held beliefs were not expressed.

On a sheet of newsprint, lead a brainstorm of questions that participants have been asked about Unitarian Universalism and/or their faith-ones that they have had answers to and ones that they have not. After the group has listed several questions, split participants into small groups to discuss the brainstormed list and to collectively provide their best answers to share with the large group. Encourage them to draw on their knowledge of and personal experience with Unitarian Universalism to respond to the questions in an authentic way. Reassure participants that their answers will vary and that is fine. After about 10 minutes, bring the groups back together and ask them to share their answers. Encourage participants to remember these questions and responses as they develop their faith statements in Activity 2.

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