Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History

Alternate Activity 1: Turn-in and Burn-in - Sermon

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Provide Handout 1 in advance to a person who has agreed to read it aloud to the group.
  • Arrange for the presenter to deliver the sermon from a lectern or pulpit, possibly in a worship space.

Description of Activity

This version of Activity 1 is designed for a group that has a member interested in publicly presenting the Rev. Dr. Jack Mendelsohn's sermon in full.

Gather the group to hear a sermon. Say:

On October 16, 1967, Arlington Street Church held a public, interfaith worship service, during which over 300 draft cards were collected, in direct violation of federal law. Some young men chose to burn their cards during the service, but most of the cards were bundled and dropped off in Washington, D.C., as part of a nationwide draft resistance movement. Michael Ferber, a lifelong Unitarian and a graduate student at Harvard at the time, was indicted for conspiracy to resist the draft along with four others. The subsequent trial of Ferber, along with pediatrician Benjamin Spock and William Sloane Coffin, Jr., was one of the notable events in Vietnam War draft resistance. All were convicted, but the conviction was overturned on appeal a year later.

The Rev. Dr. Jack Mendelsohn, minister at Arlington Street Church at that time, preached a sermon the following week, addressing what had happened at the October 16 interfaith worship service.

Then, introduce the presenter.

After the presentation, distribute Handout 1, The Church and the Draft Resisters - Full Text so participants can refer to it during a discussion of the Mendelsohn sermon. Consider these questions:

  • How do you feel about the events described by the Rev. Dr. Mendelsohn? How would you feel if this had taken place at your congregation?
  • Rev. Mendelsohn describes some of the diverse reactions he received to the service. He gives his own reasons for participating. What are your thoughts on how he handled the divergent viewpoints in his community?