Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development

From Long Ago and Many Lands….to Here and Now!

By Pat Kahn

sophia fahs

Sophia Lyon Fahs, born in China on August 2, 1876.

A fine way to celebrate August 2, the birthday of Sophia Fahs, is to take a look at her classic story collection, From Long Ago and Many Lands: Stories for Children Told Anew. It is now available on the Unitarian Universalist Association website, at no charge (PDF, 288 pages).

Originally published in 1948 by Beacon Press with a small teacher’s guide by Florence Wolff Klaber, From Long Ago and Many Lands was reprinted six times before its second edition was published by Skinner House Books in 1995. In the forward to the second edition, Pat Hoertdoerfer, then UUA Children’s Program Director, wrote, "Sophia Lyon Fahs and Florence Wolff Klaber...were truly pioneering in many ways. They envisioned religious education as a lifelong experience, integrated wisdom from many religions and cultures into their work, promoted values that are currently stated in our Principles and Purposes, nurtured a religious harmony of spirituality and ethics, and cooperated across the liberal religious community in educational pursuits and publications."

Reverend Dr. Barry Andrews endorsed the second edition: "These tales, culled from cultures and wisdom traditions the world over, deal with timeless themes – life, death, faith and human diversity. The teacher’s guide contains discussion questions and suggestions for program enrichment, making this a valuable resource for parents, teachers and leaders of worship. Ideal for children and intergenerational groups. Heartily recommended.”

For twenty or so years since then, From Long Ago and Many Lands as remained a valuable and relevant resource in our congregations and beyond. Some contemporary uses include:

  • stories from the book being shared in worship services;
  • stories providing a basis for children’s, multi-age, or multigenerational RE sessions, using a variety of models including small group ministry and workshop rotation;
  • congregations developing summer or winter day camps using selected stories;
  • interfaith gatherings making use of the stories beyond the congregation; and
  • parents using the book for bedtime stories or as a basis for homeschooling activities.

One UU grandparent found From Long Ago and Many Lands was the perfect gift to share her faith and religious values with grandchildren being raised in a different faith tradition! Fahs and Klaber’s pioneering spirits live on in the varied and creative ways people are using From Long Ago and Many Lands. Share your ideas with us.

Next Steps!

Learn about Sophia Fahs and her influence on liberal religious education from biographies provided by:

About the Author

Pat Kahn

Pat Kahn served as the Professional Development Programs Manager in the Faith Development Office, with responsibilities that include the RE Credentialing Program, the Music Leader Certification Program and the Renaissance Program. She worked for the UUA in November, 2011 until June, 2019 as the...


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