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

Activity 4: Women, Faith, and Service

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • If you have time for a longer, deeper version of this activity, consider using Alternate Activity 3 instead.
  • Print out Leader Resource 3, Women, Faith, and Service and prepare to present it.
  • Prepare and set aside a sheet of newsprint with this quote:

I spent 34 years working among the Khasi people in India, but I was never a missionary! Let's get that straight right at the beginning. I went to India from my native England with the intent of identifying myself as completely as possible with the people of India and to become one with them in every way. I had no wish for them to think of me as in any way, through either Government or Missions, identified with the British in India, save by the accident of my birth which had made me British. - attributed to Margaret Barr

  • Post a sheet of blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Using Leader Resource 3, Women, Faith and Service, present the stories of Margaret Barr and the Blackmer Girl's Home of Tokyo.

Invite participants to brainstorm words that come to mind in response to the words "mission" or "missionary" and record responses on the blank sheet of newsprint. After the group has brainstormed a list, invite participants to identify which words have positive associations, which have negative connotations, and which are neutral.

Display the quote you have prepared and invite comments. Suggest that there is more than one way for people of different cultures and religions to be in relationship. Three models can be described by the terms power over, power with, and empowering. Write these terms on newsprint. Invite participants to react to these three phrases. Ask if anyone would like to add others. Then ask:

  • Using these terms, how would you characterize the work of Margaret Barr? The Association of Universalist Women and the Blackmer Girl's Home?
  • Thinking about the differences among the three types of relationships, what might happen with each model when the original supporters pull out-or are thrown out?

Point out that both of the stories have been reconstructed here through a combination of primary and secondary sources, not all of which are in agreement. Ask:

  • How might our view of a particular effort be affected by its documentation?
  • In what ways is history shaped-and reshaped-by its writers?