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

Activity 2: The Founding of the Dedham Church

Part of The New UU

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out the story "The Founding of the Dedham Church" and copy for all participants. Practice reading the story aloud.
  • Find out how your congregation was founded. If there is a written history, read about the founding. If not, talk with the congregation's historian or a long-time or charter member. With your co-facilitator(s), compare and contrast the founding of your congregation with that of the Dedham Church.

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity with a brief discussion of church governance. Ask, "Why does it matter how we govern ourselves within a congregation?" Help participants discern that governance, the way we make decisions and handle power, needs to be consistent with our religious principles. Our values are displayed in how we govern ourselves. If we trust people to find their own truths, then our system of governance needs to be consistent with that trust. Point out that the use of the democratic process is one of our seven Principles.

Distribute the story and invite participants to read the introduction and the story silently, or read it aloud. Invite participants to comment about what stood out for them in the story.

Briefly tell the story of the founding of your congregation. Lead a discussion, using these questions to guide you:

  • How does the founding of the Dedham Church compare to how our congregation was founded?
  • How is the Dedham founding story reflected in our congregation's story?
  • How do you think our congregation's founding story is reflected in congregational life today?
  • How is our understanding of covenant the same as the understanding held by members of the Dedham Church in the 17th century?
  • How are we different from the Dedham Church? How has our understanding of covenant changed?