Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What We Choose: An Adult Program on Ethics for Unitarian Universalists

Activity 1: Opening Scenario

Part of What We Choose

Activity time: 15 minutes

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the scenario and facilitator notes in the Description of Activity. Prepare to present the scenario and facilitate the conversation that follows in such a way as to ensure the emotional and spiritual safety of people of color and/or working-class people who may be part of your group.

Description of Activity

Share this scenario and lead a discussion using the questions that follow:

Your congregation decides to help the children who attend a day care center in an economically depressed area of a neighboring city. You collect very nice costumes that children of your congregation have used for recitals, plays, and other events in order to give them to the children of the day care center so that the children of that neighborhood will have something to wear for Halloween. When you call the day care center to tell them about the wonderful costumes you have collected, the center director refuses to accept the costumes, effectively saying, "Our parents are perfectly capable of dressing their kids up for Halloween. If you want to do something, bring your kids over here and get to know us."


  • What are the underlying moral issues?
  • How would you react under these circumstances if you were the day care center director receiving the offer of the costumes? If you were a congregational volunteer making the offer? If you were a member of the congregation who also used the day care center (or whose sibling/cousin/friend used the center)?
  • What unstated stories and histories might be at play?

Note to facilitators: This conversation has the potential for being painful for people of color, lower-income people, working-class people, and/or parents who struggle with finances. Be alert for "they" and "them," "we" and "us" language that makes the day care center staff or clientele a group whose concerns and circumstances are outside the experience of the members of the group. Examples:

  • "I don't know why they turned down the offer. Those kids have so little. You would think they would be grateful."
  • "We try so hard to do the right thing; why don't they understand that we meant well?"
  • "It's too bad they were so stubborn about this; they don't know what they are missing"
  • "Don't they understand how busy our kids are/we are? It would be so hard to arrange for our kids to meet theirs. What do they expect us to do?"

When you encounter we/they, us/them language, gently remind participants that such language assumes the day care center staff/clientele are people whose concerns and circumstances are outside the experience of the everyone in the workshop group. Invite participants to open their hearts to broader perspective and understanding.