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Activity 3: Story - Challenged in Belief

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Three copies of the story "Challenged in Belief"
  • Small table, table cloth and two chairs
  • Teapot and two teacups
  • Optional: Video camera

Preparation for Activity

  • Make three copies of the script for the story, "Challenged in Belief" and highlight the lines for the three speaking parts.
  • Feel free to recruit your participants for speaking parts ahead of time so they can practice their lines, although this is not necessary.
  • Set up the table, teapot and teacups on the side so that you can move them to the middle of the room at the appropriate time.
  • Since many of the lines in the story are direct quotes from John Murray, the language could be difficult for today's reader. Be ready to help with unfamiliar words. Encourage readers to read slowly.
  • Optional: If you have the technology, consider video recording the play. Most digital cameras have a video function and recording the play could be a fun way for participants to share what they are doing with friends or family. If you post it to a website like You Tube or Facebook, make sure you check your congregation's safety policies and get permission from the parents of the participants in the play.

Description of Activity

Ask if anyone knows the story of John Murray. If they do not, tell them that he is considered to have preached the first Universalist sermon in the United States, bringing the idea of Universal Salvation to this country. Tell them that in his life, he went on both a long literal journey, emigrating from England to the United States, as well as a long spiritual journey, converting from Methodism to Universalism.

If you have not already recruited actors, ask for three volunteers now. Give them several minutes to read the script. While they are preparing, bring the table, chairs, teapot and teacups to the center of the room.

Have the volunteers act out the short play.

Then, ask the following reflection questions:

  • What happened to John Murray in this story?
  • Have you ever had a similar conversation with a friend or someone else in your life? Have you ever challenged someone else's beliefs or had your beliefs challenged?
  • When have you been humbled or confounded? When have you seen clearly?
  • What developmental stage do they think John Murray was in at this point in his life?

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