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

Activity 2: 1893 World's Parliament of Religions

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out Leader Resource 1, The 1893 World's Parliament of Religions, and familiarize yourself with its contents.
  • Copy Handout 1, Time Line, 1893 and Handout 2, Voices from the Parliament.
  • Choose several diverse "voices" from Handout 2, Voices from the Parliament and recruit volunteers to read those parts. Provide volunteers with their assignments ahead of time.
  • Write on newsprint, and set aside:
    • Is it possible to mediate competing religious claims?
    • Do you see an evolutionary progression in religion over time?
    • How might adherents of one religion learn truths from another in ways that do not presume conversion?
    • Do you see the identification of those things that religions hold in common as the first step toward a universal religion? Why?
  • Optional: Download the questions and prepare them as a digital slide. Test the computer and projector.

Description of Activity

Distribute Handout 1, Time Line, 1893. Give participants a moment to review the major events of 1893. Invite any additions.

Present or read the contents of Leader Resource 1, The 1893 World's Parliament of Religions.

Then, distribute copies of Handout 2, Voices from the Parliament. Invite volunteers to read the words of women and men who presented papers and wrote about the Parliament. Invite participants to use Handout 1, the 1893 time line, to notice the events that shaped the experiences of those speaking.

Post the questions you have prepared and invite comments and discussion.

To conclude, invite the group to reflect on the discussion they have just had. Ask:

  • Do you think your answers would be different if you were a Unitarian or Universalist living in 1893? Why?