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

Activity 3: Martha and Waitstill Sharp

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out the story "Righteous Among the Nations - Martha and Waitstill Sharp" and prepare to present it.
  • Write on newsprint, and set aside:

I became acutely aware of the necessity for explicit commitment, in contrast to a vague sort of liberalism opposed to prejudices and promoting openness of mind. - James Luther Adams

Description of Activity

Read or tell the story "Righteous Among the Nations - Martha and Waitstill Sharp." and then invite questions or comments.


In 1935-36, Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams traveled to Nazi Germany to study. There he met many church leaders, including the minister of the largest Unitarian church in Germany, who accepted the Nazi philosophy in order to protect themselves and keep their churches open. Adams later wrote extensively of that time in Germany.

Display the prepared quote from James Luther Adams. Pause for a moment to allow people to gather their thoughts, then invite them to turn to a partner and share their responses to the quote and the story.

After five minutes, gather the large group. Invite participants to offer examples of ways Unitarian Universalists have demonstrated explicit commitment to freedom and justice for all people. Invite conversations about how your congregation makes explicit its commitment to social justice. How might that work be strengthened?