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

Activity 4: Creating Ritual Together

Part of Spirit of Life

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Participants will form their own small groups to plan and enact five stages of a ritual. If your workshop includes fewer than ten participants, plan how you will adapt this activity. You may decide to create two small groups, one to plan and enact Parts I, III, and V of the ritual, and the other to plan and enact Parts II and IV.
  • Review and print two copies of Leader Resource 1. Keep one copy intact for your own use during the activity. Cut the other copy along the dotted lines, making five slips with instructions for small groups.

Description of Activity

Explain the activity using these or your own words:

Meaningful worship and rituals do not necessarily require a lot of props or extensive planning. In the next fifteen minutes, you will create a ritual together that celebrates the loving community we can have in our congregation. It is connected to today's Principle, "Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations." Each of five small groups will be responsible for one section of the ritual.

Using Leader Resource 1, describe the five elements of a ritual. You may wish to read aloud from the leader resource, or use these brief descriptions:

"Centering" opens the ritual, calling participants to pay attention and ground themselves in the ritual's purpose.

"Sharing the journey" tells or enacts a story.

"Meditating or praying" allows a time for naming hopes and connecting with the Spirit of Life.

"Moving" uses body movement to express transition and emotion.

"Closing" expresses gratitude and closes the ritual in a way that helps participants carry its spirit forward.

Invite participants to move to areas of the room you designate for work on each stage of the ritual, according to their preferences. Ask for volunteers to join smaller groups to equalize the sizes of all five groups. Give each group its instruction slip for Part I, II, III, IV or V that you have cut out from Leader Resource 1.

Explain that groups will have ten minutes to plan their part of a ritual and that the entire group will enact the ritual together when the planning time is up. Each element of the ritual should last no longer than two minutes.

Make yourself available to answer groups' questions and to help them generate ideas.

When ten minutes have passed, re-gather the group to enact the ritual.

Remind participants of the flow of the events: Centering, Sharing the Journey, Meditating or Praying, Moving, and Closing. Explain that silence will link the five stages of the ritual; small groups must be ready to move the ritual forward without prompting. Ask participants to pay attention to the flow of the ritual as a whole, and to observe how their small group's work contributes to the overall experience.

Invite participants to get comfortable in their chairs, take some deep breaths, and prepare to receive the ritual. Signal the first small group to begin.

After the ritual, guide a discussion with these questions:

  • What was it like to create and participate in this ritual?
  • What was it like to receive it?
  • What realizations or learnings have you had that you can carry forward?

Including All Participants

Encourage small groups to be sensitive to the range of physical ability among participants and to create ritual that includes all.