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

Alternate Activity 3: Women, Faith, and Service - Longer Version

Activity time: 45 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out Leader Resource 3, Women, Faith, and Service and prepare to present it.
  • Prepare a sheet of newsprint with this quote, and set it aside:

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

  • Prepare another sheet of newsprint with this role play assignment, and set it aside:
    • An American Unitarian Universalist youth is backpacking, independently seeing the world. The youth meets another Unitarian Universalist youth from another part of the world. They begin a conversation, comparing their two congregations. They discuss things each church needs, and resources each church can offer.
  • Post a blank sheet of newsprint.
  • Optional: Prepare the quotation and the role play assignment as two digital slides. Test computer and projector. Display the quotation.

Description of Activity

Use this activity in place of Activity 4, if you have time, to allow deeper reflection on the question of power in relationships between religions and cultures.

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 words which have positive associations, have negative connotations, or are neutral.

Display the quote you have prepared and invite comments. Suggest 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 terms. Ask if anyone would like to add others. Then ask:

  • Using these terms, how would you characterize the work of Margaret Barr?
  • How would you characterize the Association of Universalist Women's relationship with 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 were to pull out? What if they were thrown out?

Point out that both of the stories have been reconstructed here from 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?

Now, invite participants to form three groups. Post the role play scenario you have written on newsprint. Read it aloud.

Invite each small group to develop a role play based on the scenario. Invite one group to develop a conversation between the two youths that reflects "power over;" another, a conversation that represents "power with;" and the third, a conversation of "empowering."

Allow the groups 15 minutes to develop their role plays. Then invite them to re-gather and present their sketches to one another.