Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Activity 4: Life-Changing Beliefs

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out Leader Resource 5, Life-Changing Beliefs and prepare to present its contents.
  • Write these questions on separate sheets of newsprint, and set aside:
    • What is the moral nature of humankind? Are humans essentially good, bad, or a combination?
    • What is the basis of moral behavior? What motivates ethical action?
    • What are the ultimate rewards and punishments of human existence?

Description of Activity

Present Leader Resource 5, Life-Changing Beliefs. Then say, in these or similar words:

The story of Mary Livermore and the information about the Southold Debate and the Women's National Missionary Association highlight a common charge against Universalism which was the source of so much of the derision and discrimination Universalists experienced: Universalism, as understood by the orthodox, undercut morality. The orthodox believer asked, If there is no retribution, what keeps everyone in line?

Today, many mainline Christian traditions hold beliefs similar to our Universalists ancestors, yet the core questions remain rich opportunities for debate.

Have participants form three groups. Give each group a sheet of newsprint and invite them to discuss the question printed on it.

Allow ten minutes for the small group discussions. Then, re-gather the large group and invite each small group to report whether they reached a consensus and what the main arguments were for each position. After all groups have reported, invite general comment and discussion.