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

Alternate Activity 2: Diversity of Beliefs within Unitarian Universalism

Part of The New UU

Activity time: 20 minutes

Preparation for Activity

  • Clear a large space or move to a different space where people can move freely in the room.

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity with these or similar words:

We're going to demonstrate to ourselves the breadth found in Unitarian Universalism by seeing how this group of people who have been drawn to a UU congregation see their own beliefs. I'm going to ask a series of questions and ask people to move to different parts of the room in response. Any time you want to pass or are undecided, you can stay in the middle of the room.

The practice question is, "What's your favorite kind of ice cream?"

Point out one corner for chocolate, one corner for vanilla, one corner for other, and one corner for "I don't like ice cream."

After each question, invite people to talk for a moment or two with people near them about why they answered the way they did. Then, invite one person from each cluster to say something about their choice to the entire group. Keep the answers moving quickly.

Repeat this process for each of the following questions:

  • "Do you believe in God?" Point out one side of the room for "yes," and the opposite side for "no."
  • "Is life determined most by fate or free will?" Point to opposite sides of the room for each.
  • "Are human beings more physical or spiritual beings?" Point to opposite sides of the room for each.
  • "How do you think of goodness?" Point to different corners for "happiness," "justice," "holiness," and "other."
  • "Which value is greatest?" Point to different corners for "truth," "beauty," "goodness," and "other."
  • "What happens after you die?" Indicate one corner of the room for "reincarnation," another corner for "nothing," another corner for "union with God or the universe," another corner for "something else."

Return the group to its seated circle and discuss these questions:

  • What surprised you in this exercise?
  • What did you learn?

Conclude by reminding the group that although Unitarian Universalists have a diversity of beliefs, we each learn not only from our personal experience, but also learn from one another. We gather not around a common belief system, but around a covenant to walk together.

Including All Participants

Configure the room to maximize the ability of all participants to move around. If necessary, modify the activity by asking for a show of hands for each category.