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

Activity 1: The Baltimore Sermon

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out the story and prepare to present it. Make copies for participants to take home at the close of the workshop.
  • Write on a sheet of newsprint:
    • God: Unity or Trinity?
    • Christ: Fully human or two natures, human and divine?
    • Nature of God: Loving or condemning?
  • On another sheet, write:
    • I used to think ...
    • Now I think ...
    • As a Unitarian Universalist, I wonder ...
  • Print out Leader Resource 1, William Ellery Channing, Portrait to pass around.
  • Optional: Download Leader Resource 1 and prepare the portrait as a digital slide. Prepare a digital slide with the three topics and the three sentence prompts. Test the computer and projector.
  • Optional: Make copies of the story for participants to take home.

Description of Activity

Pass around or display the portrait of William Ellery Channing (Leader Resource 1).

Present the story "The Baltimore Sermon."

Invite brief comment and questions about the material. Explain that Channing's Baltimore Sermon is an "evolutionary document," that is, one which describes his theological journey away from some of his previous beliefs and assertions to new religious understandings. Say that Unitarianism, and Unitarian Universalism, have always encouraged personal exploration of this kind.

Invite participants to move into discussion groups of three. Post the three topics and three sentence prompts. Invite participants to select one or two of the topics, drawn from the major points of Channing's sermon, as a beginning point for conversation. Suggest they use the sentence prompts to help them reflect

Allow triads 15 minutes for sharing. Then invite participants to share comments with the large group.