Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Spirit of Life: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Spirituality

Program Structure

Part of Spirit of Life

All nine workshops follow a similar structure. Between an opening and a closing ritual, participants engage in up to seven activities. The opening includes a chalice-lighting, and the closing includes an extinguishing of the chalice. Each workshop includes a time for sharing names and regarding one another. Most workshops feature a central story.

All workshops offer one or more additional activities for extending the workshop from an hour and a half, to two hours or longer. Leaders should decide in advance how long each workshop will be so that they and participants can schedule the time and arrange transportation and/or childcare.

Every workshop offers ideas for participants to continue exploring its themes after the workshop's conclusion. The Taking It Home section supports continued engagement with topics to discuss, things to notice, and questions to consider in journal-writing. The Faith in Action section invites participants to apply experiences and discoveries from the workshop to personal or group service and justice-making activities. While these activities are optional, Taking It Home and Faith in Action are important elements of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Tapestry of Faith programs. The leader preparation for each workshop should include reviewing Taking It Home and Faith in Action, choosing relevant suggestions, and creating a Taking It Home handout for participants.


Excerpts from the Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations introduce the focusing principle and source for each workshop. These quotes are in the introductory handout for each workshop and are read as part of the opening. Co-leaders may like to discuss the quote as part of their preparation to feel grounded in the Principles and Sources of our Unitarian Universalist living tradition as you prepare to lead.


The Introduction provides a short summary of the workshop's content and guidance for implementing the workshop.


The Goals state the general participant outcomes of the workshop. Review the goals to connect the workshop's content and methodologies with the four strands of religious development that are the basis of Tapestry of Faith: ethical development, spiritual development, faith development, and Unitarian Universalist identity development. As you plan a workshop, apply your knowledge of the group, the time and space available, and your own strengths and interests to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop and the activities that will serve them best.

Learning Objectives

The Learning Objectives describe specific participant outcomes for which the workshop activities are designed. It may be helpful to think of learning objectives as the building blocks with which the program's larger goals are achieved. To achieve particular learning objectives, make sure you select the activities that address those outcomes.


The Workshop-at-a-Glance table lists the workshop activities in order and provides an estimated time for completing each activity.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is not a road map that you must follow. Rather, use it as a menu for planning the workshop. You will decide which elements to use and how to best combine them for your group, meeting space, and time available.

Keep in mind that many variables determine the time required for an activity. Whole-group discussions will take longer in a large group than in a small group. While six teams can plan their skits as quickly as two teams can, your group will need more time to watch six skits than to watch two. Remember to consider the time needed to move and settle participants from one area to another.

Spiritual Preparation

Each workshop includes suggestions for leaders to prepare for leading the workshop. Take advantage of these suggestions to experience the Spirit of Life program yourself, to grow spiritually, and to grow as a leader.

Workshop Plan

The workshop plan presents every element of the workshop, in detail, in the sequence established in the Workshop-at-a-Glance table. The workshop plan also presents Taking It Home and Resources sections. The Resources section includes additional sources to help the leader further explore the workshop topics.

If you are reading Spirit of Life online, you can move among the workshop's elements—Opening, Closing, Activity 4, Handouts, etc. Each element occupies its own web page. You can click "Print this Page" to print just the Opening, for example, or a single handout. You can also download a single entire workshop—or download the entire program—to customize and print as you wish.


Each workshop begins with a chalice-lighting ritual and an opening activity that involves reading together and considering the Unitarian Universalist Principle and Source that center the workshop. Shape the opening ritual to suit your group and the culture and practices of your congregation.


Up to seven activities form the core content of each workshop. The variety of activities in each workshop helps address different learning styles among participants. In most workshops, one activity focuses the group's attention on a story that illuminates the workshop theme.

Presenting the activities in the sequence suggested in each workshop helps provide a coherent learning experience. In general, workshops are structured to first activate participants' interest in and prior knowledge of the main topic, then offer hands-on engagement with the topic, and finally provide opportunities to process and apply new reflections and knowledge. The suggested sequence balances listening and talking, and complements individual exploration with small group or whole group exploration.

As you mix and match activities to form a workshop that works well for your group, keep in mind the benefits of a well paced workshop that includes different kinds of activities. If you are leading an hour-and-a-half or longer workshop, sequence in Alternate Activities in an order that makes sense within the flow of the workshop.

Materials for Activity

Provided for each activity, this checklist tells you the supplies you will need.

Preparation for Activity

Review the bulleted preparation "to do" list for each activity at least one week ahead of a workshop. The list describes all the advance work you need to do for the activity, from securing musical accompaniment to creating a poster.

Description of Activity

This section provides detailed directions for implementing the activity with your group. Read the activity descriptions carefully so that you understand both the activity and its purpose. Later, when you are leading the group, use the description as a step-by-step how-to manual.

Including All Participants

Adaptation to include all participants should always be part of your planning process. For certain activities, the Including All Participants section suggests specific modifications to make the activity manageable and meaningful for participants with limitations of mobility, sight, hearing, or cognition. Leader Resource 1 in Workshop 1 includes general tips for making workshops more accessible. Neither the leader resource nor Including All Participants are comprehensive.

Faith in Action

Each workshop includes suggestions for ways to apply experiences and discoveries from the workshop to personal or group service and justice-making activities. You may want to include some of the Faith in Action suggestions on the Taking It Home handout. You may also choose to invite the group to join together in a Faith in Action activity.


Each workshop includes a closing ritual which includes a closing reading, extinguishing of the chalice, and introduction of the workshop's Taking It Home ideas. For workshops in which participants are invited to read closing words together, these words appear on the introductory handout that also provides the workshop's chalice-lighting words, Principle, and Source. Use the program as a resource to shape a closing that fits your group and your faith home culture and practice.

Leader Reflection and Planning

This section provides questions to help co-leaders process the workshop after it is concluded and use their reflections to shape future workshops.

Taking It Home

The Taking It Home section helps participants extend their Spirit of Life experiences. This resource includes conversation topics, journaling assignments, and other ideas for incorporating learnings from the workshop into participants' lives at home, and in their workplaces, congregations, and communities. Download Taking It Home, print out, photocopy it "as is" for participants to bring home, or customize it first.

Alternate Activities

Most workshops feature one or more alternate activities. You can use these to extend the total time of the workshops to an hour and a half or longer, or you can substitute them for core workshop activities. Sometimes the alternate activities are simpler to implement than the core activities. Materials checklists, preparation, and descriptions for alternate activities appear in the same format as they do in core activities.


The program provides four types of resources.

Stories have the full text of any story you will read or tell the group.

Handouts are material that you need to print out and copy for all participants to use in the workshop. Some handouts are optional, such as those that include the full text of stories that you will read aloud to participants.

Leader Resources are materials that you will need to print out and modify in some way for the workshop.

Find Out More includes book and video titles, website URLs, and other resources to help you learn more about the workshop topics.