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Faith In Action: Community Action Project, Workshop 8: Freedom

In "A Place of Wholeness," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 4, Action Planning
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Dot stickers, three for each participant
  • Pencils or pens

Preparation for Activity

  • Copies of Handout 4, Action Planning, for all participants.

Description of Activity

Throughout this workshop, participants have been exploring freedom. This Faith in Action project gives participants an opportunity to develop and implement a plan to take action to expand freedom in their community. Below is a five-step process leading to action.

Listing Issues

Ask participants: If someone has been denied their freedom or liberty, is it our responsibility to do something about it? Discuss this question for about five minutes.

Point out that in this workshop they have been asked to think about times and places where freedom has been denied. Ask them to name these times and places where freedom has been denied, and list them on newsprint. It is possible that they will start with times in history like slavery or the Holocaust. It is okay to list these, but encourage them to also name times and places that are current and located in their community.

Once they have brainstormed a list, ask: Which of these situations can we do NOTHING about? This is a trick question. There should not be an issue one can do nothing about. For example, if slavery is on the list and your congregation is located in New England or one of the states that made up the Confederacy, it is possible that your congregation's ancestors, or even the church itself, profited from slavery. Does your church have a responsibility to address those actions? Or, if the Holocaust is on the list, participants can do something by learning more about it. Learning more is an action that we can take with just about any situation where someone's freedom has been denied.

Criteria for selection

Tell participants that they will create and implement a plan to do something about one of the issues they listed. Explain that the next step is to identify criteria for choosing an issue to address. Lead the group in brainstorming the criteria they would use. For example, it must be a local issue, or an issue that relates to youth. List the criteria on newsprint.

Once you have a list of criteria, determine which criteria are most important to the group by using a process called multi-voting. Hand each participant three dot stickers. Explain that they will vote on the criteria most important to them. Tell them they can place their dots on two or three different criteria, or if they feel strongly about one of the criteria, they can put all their dots on one.

When participants are done, tally up the dots for each criteria.

Selecting the issue

Using the same multi-voting process described above, ask participants to vote for the issues they would like to address. Remind them to think about the criteria they prioritized.

See if there is a clear winner. Sometimes one issue will stand out with the most votes. If this is the case, ask participants if this is the issue they want to act on. If you have two or three issues with about the same number of votes, the group can vote only on these few options with one vote each.

Action Planning

The next step is making an action plan. Ask participants to think of specific actions they can take related to the issue. It is important that they should be actions that are attainable for your group. Traveling to Darfur to work in a refugee camp might be exciting, but taking part in a letter writing campaign to get your congregation's bank to divest from companies doing business in Darfur might be a more attainable project.

The group may identify one big action or a few smaller ones. If they choose several smaller actions, they might break into small working teams for the next step.

Distribute Handout 4, Action Planning. Either in the large group or in the smaller working teams, brainstorm a list of tasks needed to make the action happen. When a list has been written, work with participants to put the tasks in the order they need to be done. Ask participants to fill in their own handout as you discuss what needs to be done with each task.

Making It Happen

The last step is implementation. Talk with the congregation's director of religious education and the minister about the project. Communicate with the congregation's social action committee (or equivalent). Make a plan with participants for how they will check in about the tasks each is responsible for. And finally, have a great time!

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 Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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