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

Faith In Action: Using Your Congregations Power

Materials for Activity

  • Participant journals
  • Writing materials, including paper, pens, pencils, color pencils, and markers

Description of Activity

Invite participants to consider power in their congregation, using these or similar words:

Remembering the definition of power-the ability to achieve purpose-make some notes in your journal about the way power is held and expressed in your congregation. You might use pictures, diagrams, paragraphs, poems-whatever facilitates your thinking. Consider concrete expressions of power, such as any building that your congregation owns, endowments or other legacies. Think about intangible assets that amplify power, such as the socio-economic or racial privilege of members, the educational background of members, the influence wielded through members' and staff's political affiliations or social networking opportunities, or the children who participate in the religious education program. What about the power of conviction? The role Unitarian Universalist faith plays in the lives of the members? Where and how does your congregation have power in your community?

Help the group outline some of these places of power in the congregation. Then, invite the group to think about how the congregation uses its power-its resources-to address issues of social justice in your community. Perhaps you are already involved in activities that transform your congregation's power into action. If so, name them. What additional ways could your congregation use its power to address social justice issues? For example, a congregation with a large building might work with local homeless services to offer shelter over the holidays. A congregation with a large endowment might create a nonprofit granting organization. A small congregation might use some of the educational resources of its members to organize a tutoring program. Encourage participants to list big dreams, or small steps, the congregation might take to use their power and resources for the transformation of our world. Decide together which ideas should be suggested to the congregation and its leadership, and make a plan to present the ideas.