Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: The New UU: A Program for Welcoming Newcomers to Unitarian Universalist Congregations

Alternate Activity 1: The Big Questions

Part of The New UU

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Make copies of Handout 2, Unitarian Universalist Sources for all participants.
  • Familiarize yourself with the presentation and the contents of Leader Resource 3, Common Views Among Unitarian Universalists.

Description of Activity

Explain that one key difference among religious traditions is what they find to be authoritative. Distribute Handout 2, Unitarian Universalist Sources. Invite volunteers to read each of the Sources aloud. Ask, "What do you think is the effect of having such a diverse set of sources of religious authority?" Explain further using these or similar words:

There are basic "big questions" which all religions strive to answer. If you learned a catechism in your youth, you learned various big questions, along with their answers. In Unitarian Universalist congregations, we still raise the questions, but our answers may be more varied than those of some other religious groups, and subject to modification or deepening over time.

Invite participants to consider this question: "What are the big questions that these sources and religion in general strive to answer?" Offer an example of a "big question," such as "What is the nature of humanity?" Invite participants to move into groups of four to discuss and formulate a list of big questions. Invite groups to select a recorder who will report to the large group. Allow ten minutes for groups to make their lists.

At the end of ten minutes, sound the bell or gong. Ask one group to offer one of its questions. Write the question on newsprint. Ask another group to offer a different question. Continue in this manner until all questions have been offered. If one group comes up with a question that is nearly the same as a question already asked, suggest that those questions be combined.

Briefly address the questions from a Unitarian Universalist perspective, using Leader Resource 3, Common Views Among Unitarian Universalists as a guide. Focus on the basic agreements that exist among UUs, while recognizing the diversity of theologies that live side by side.