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


Oppression and war will be heard of no more

Nor the blood of a slave leave his print on our shore,

Conventions will then be a useless expense,

For we'll all go free suffrage, a hundred years hence. — Frances Dana Barker Gage, in her 1875 hymn "A Hundred Years Hence"

This workshop explores Unitarian and Universalist contributions to the American peace movement, and in particular, the work of generations of Unitarian and Universalist women who worked for peace through the 19th and into the 20th century. Many women who were ardent abolitionists were also horrified by the carnage of the United States Civil War. After the war, women who had honed their skills organizing for equal rights in the mid-1800s turned their eye toward peace and became leaders in a multigenerational effort that sought to make peace an international focus.

As the quote at the beginning of this workshop demonstrates, concern about the violence of war overlapped with the abolition and woman suffrage movements. Although many women in these movements are familiar to us and others are not, all belonged to a large, organic network of activists, free religionists, theological thinkers, and prophetic speakers who influenced one another over time and across eras. The origins of this movement can be traced back to the late 1700s, and its influence was felt well into the 20th century.

This workshop will investigate the organic emergence movements from other movements, and examine how the overlap of ideas, theologies, and conversations can empower one generation to fulfill the dreams of their forebears. Participants explore the nature of peace work and consider how a position of resistance might be taken and a goal of transformation realized in a contemporary context.

To ensure you can help adults of all ages, stages, and learning styles participate fully in this workshop, review these sections of the program Introduction: "Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters" in the Integrating All Participants section, and "Strategies for Effective Group Facilitation" and "Strategies for Brainstorming" in the Leader Guidelines section.


This workshop will:

  • Introduce a number of Unitarian and Universalist women who were involved in early women's rights and peace efforts
  • Demonstrate, though historical examples, how relationships strengthen justicemaking and peacemaking efforts
  • Offer a framework for exploring how participants are connected with those who have inspired them and those whom they themselves inspire.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn about the work of Clara Barton and other 19th-century Universalist and Unitarian women on behalf of peace and in support of soldiers in the Civil War
  • Discover the connections between 19th- and early 20th-century peacemaking efforts and the effort to achieve women's political power by campaigning on behalf of women's suffrage
  • Experience a model of social justice work that focuses on relationships rather than highlighting individual achievements
  • Better understand how their own social justice work exists within a matrix of relationships.