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

Activity 3: The Cost

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 2, The Cost
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Handout 2 and copy for all participants.
  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Have participants brainstorm, on newsprint, a list of congregational social justice efforts that have cost the congregation money, either directly or indirectly. Then, invite each participant to pick an activity from the list and share why they think the effort was worth the money spent.

Distribute Handout 2, The Cost. Invite participants to read it silently. After all have finished, invite comments and observations about the financial costs that the New Orleans congregation faced as a result of their justice work. Point out that these efforts almost bankrupted the congregation, threatening its survival as an institution. Facilitate a discussion on the financial costs of justice work, using these questions:

  • How does a congregation balance fiscal responsibility and long-term stewardship with a moral imperative to work for justice?
  • Are some justice issues so important they are worth risking the long-term survival of a congregation? What issues are worth risking everything for?
  • Does social justice work offer Unitarian Universalists in congregations a chance to grow? For example, in integrity? In understanding our faith? In visibility in the larger community? How do we weigh the potential for growth against immediate fiscal issues?
  • How have tensions between fiscal responsibility and social justice affected your congregation? Do you think the congregation strikes a good balance between these needs?