Tapestry of Faith: Harvest the Power, 2nd Edition: A Lay Leadership Development Program for Adults

Activity 1: Fannie Barrier Williams

(15 minutes)


  • Story, Fannie Barrier Williams
  • Participants’ copies of Handout 2, Types of Power, from Workshop 1
  • Optional: Newsprint, markers, and wall-safe tape


  • Familiarize yourself with the story.
  • Pre-arrange for a participant to read the story; provide them with a copy ahead of time.
  • Optional: Write the five types of power (referent power, expert power, positional power, reward power, and coercive power) from Handout 2 on a sheet of newsprint, and post where all participants can see.


Invite participants to listen as the participant you chose reads the story aloud to the group. Ask the group, as they listen, to consider the ways that Fannie Barrier Williams modeled leadership with integrity.

Engage participants in a discussion with these questions:

  • How did Fannie Barrier Williams show leadership? What kinds of power did she exhibit in her leadership? Invite participants to refer to their copies of Handout 2, Types of Power, from Workshop 1.
  • How would you describe the personal qualities that Williams brought to her leadership? How did her leadership reflect a “we” orientation?
  • How did Williams develop and use the skills and connections she needed to lead effectively?
  • What spiritual and emotional support might she have drawn on to withstand enormous pressure and maintain her integrity?

Conclude the discussion by noting that this story is suitable for all ages and is a good one to share with young people in your home or congregation.