Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building the World We Dream About for Young Adults: An Anti-racist Multicultural Program

Alternate Activity 1: No More Deaths

Activity time: 40 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

Description of Activity

Distribute the story , "No More Deaths." Read it aloud, or invite a volunteer to do so. Update the story by saying, in these words or your own:

Emrys Staton was sentenced to 300 hours of community service shortly before he left for seminary. After he began the service work, he felt uncomfortable with doing it, and he sent the judge a letter, saying that he believed that his work with No More Deaths already constituted community service and that he would not be completing the court's sentence. The judge replied that Staton could choose to continue the community service, or he could spend 600 hours-about 25 days-in federal prison. In the fall of 2010, an appeals court overturned the conviction, stating that a gallon jug of water did not fit the legal definition of "garbage." Staton continues his humanitarian work with No More Deaths during his breaks from school. He graduated from seminary in May 2012.

Explain that you will listen to a podcast of Emrys Staton's sermon, "Life or Litter? The Value of People and Hope," delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson on July 19, 2009, and let them know that at the time Staton was using the first name "Walt." Play the podcast.

Discuss the podcast as a group, using these questions to guide you:

  • How is the work of No More Deaths an example of a prophetic approach to resistance?
  • How does the work of No More Deaths aim to transform society and work against racism and systems of privilege?
  • Why is it important to Staton that No More Deaths is a faith-based organization? What UU values are reflected in the organization's work?
  • Staton says that he doesn't want others to feel "suffocated by the weight of this situation." What thoughts or insights do you have in response to his words, particularly for those who are not in a position to engage in the kind of prophetic witness that Staton demonstrated with his actions?
  • What does his call to "not turn away" from injustice mean to you in your life at this time?