Prophetic Church: A People So Bold DVD Discussion Guide

This segment explores how our congregations can be “prophetic:” tellers of truth, creators of justice, makers of history.

Materials and Preparation

  • A People So Bold DVD
  • DVD player, TV/screen, and speakers
  • Chalice, candle, and matches
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Singing the Living Tradition (1)

Time: 50-75 Minutes

A. Chalice Lighting

(5 minutes)

Welcome participants. Recruit a volunteer to light the chalice.

Offer affirmation 459 from Singing the Living Tradition as the volunteer kindles the flame.

B. What is the Prophetic Church?

(20-30 minutes)

Explain to participants:

This segment is called “Prophetic Church.” The word “prophetic” is used in liberal religion in a certain way—a way you might be unfamiliar with.

Ask participants how they might define “prophetic.” The word is commonly used in reference to predicting the future. If participants have not come up with a definition that is compatible with the video’s definition, offer this definition:

The ancient biblical prophets, like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos did more than receive messages from God and predict the future. The prophets were consistent voices for justice. They called on everyone—from kings to peasants—to change their ways and align their actions with the most high, most loving, and most just values of their society. But the prophets didn’t just speak—they lived their values, often at considerable risk. They were able to read the signs of their times and lead their people in creating justice. A contemporary “Prophetic Church” is on the cutting edge, reading the signs of its times, creating a just and loving community in its midst, and advocating passionately for a better world.

Introduce the speakers, each of whom will talk about what it means to be a prophetic church. They are: Paula Cole Jones, Kat Liu, Paul Rasor, and Kate Lore. (See Appendix A for biographies.)

Show the first part of the "Prophetic Church" segment, pausing at 8:53 for discussion. No questions will appear on screen—pause as Meg Riley concludes her recap of the previous speakers.

Offer these questions for discussion:

  • What are some characteristics of the prophetic church, as named by the speakers so far? (You may wish to take notes on newsprint.)
  • What does “prophetic church” mean to you?

C. Stories of the Prophetic Church

(20-30 minutes)

Tell participants:

The speakers are now going to share stories and moments of prophetic church. As you listen, think about: Do you have examples or stories of being a “prophetic church”—moments of making history instead of being pushed around by it? We’ll discuss after.

If you wish, you may introduce the speakers that appear in this next part of the video. They are: Nancy McDonald Ladd, Marilyn Sewell, Kate Lore, and Victoria Safford. (See Appendix A for biographies.)

Show the remaining part of the "Prophetic Church" segment. When the video concludes, ask:

  • What stories spoke to you? How?
  • What “Prophetic Church” stories come to mind for you?

Meg Riley invites listeners to visit Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website to find a “large cache of congregational stories.” These can be found at Congregational Life. Encourage participants to send the UUA their prophetic congregational stories!

D. Conclusion

(5-10 minutes)

Ask participants:

  • Think about the kind of story you want to create with your faith-based justice work. What story can we create together?
  • When you are ready, I invite each person to share one sentence from that story—from the story we aspire to create together.

Conclude by affirming “So may it be!”