Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What Moves Us: A Unitarian Universalist Theology Program for Adults

Leader Resource 4: Fahs Theology in the Congregation

Part of What Moves Us

This is a 30-minute activity.


  • Newsprint, markers, and tape


  • List these five items on newsprint, and post:

    • Impulse to keep alive and to avoid death
    • Impulse to delve into the mysteries of existence
    • Need for friendly companionship, or the yearning to love and to be loved
    • Need for emotional order and organization
    • Need for an internalized super-ego who incarnates the desired better self


Indicate the posted list of basic human emotional needs that Sophia Lyon Fahs identified. How does the congregation strive to meet these basic emotional needs, for people of all ages? In which ways does your congregational life reflect Fahs’ theology and her understanding that people are impelled to be religious?

Invite participants to form groups of four. Ask the groups to identify ways Fahs’ theology and educational philosophy are reflected in congregational life. Suggest they consider your congregation’s worship life, educational ministries, and social justice ministries. Do the insights that Fahs’ theology offers point to aspects of congregational life that can be strengthened and improved?

Give small groups ten minutes to work, then invite the larger group to come back together. Invite each small group to share a summary of its reflections. Are there common observations among the small groups? Are there items participants would like to bring to the attention of the congregation for follow-up?

As a large group, consider the Fahs definition of God: “the ineffable, unutterable reality, both beyond and within all.” According to Fahs, the word God includes two concepts: “A Creative Power entering from outside, and a Creative Power that has always been inherent and within.” Is the use of the word “God” a subject of conversation or discussion in their congregation? If so, would articulating the Fahs definition enhance the conversation?