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

Activity 1: Quillen Shinn

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out the story "Quillen Shinn - Grasshopper or St. Paul?" and prepare to read or tell it.
  • Print Leader Resource 1, The Words of Quillen Shinn and cut it apart, one quote per strip.
  • Ask a few volunteers in advance to read aloud some quotations from Quillen Shinn. Provide them with Leader Resource 1.
  • Print out Leader Resource 2 to pass around the room. Or download the portrait to project it for the group, and test your computer and projector.
  • Write on newsprint, and post:

From this time forth, brethren, let our watchword be, 'Go forward!' or 'Come forward!' and all up and down your great rivers and scattered over your broad prairies will be set the beaconlights of our holy faith to light up with hope and joy the coming years. - Quillen Hamilton Shinn (1845-1907)

  • On another sheet of newpsrint, write and post:
    • In Shinn's day, Universalist leaders debated the best way for the denomination to grow: Concentrate on large population centers, or grow small congregations anywhere and everywhere? Is this question still relevant?
    • What are benefits of concentrating on a few centers of large population? What might be challenges?
    • What are benefits of outreach to many small communities? What might be challenges?
    • What tools do we have today that might reframe this debate from Shinn's day?
    • Are Shinn's exhortations to all Universalists to act as missionaries still relevant? If so, how?

Description of Activity

Display or distribute Leader Resource 2, Quillen Hamilton Shinn, Portrait.

Read or tell the story.

Then, distribute the slips of paper from Leader Resource 1, The Words of Quillen Shinn. Invite volunteers to read a few quotations aloud.

Call attention to the prepared quote and questions you have posted on newsprint. Lead participants to discuss the questions.