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

Alternate Activity 2: The Dedham Case

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A copy of the story "The Dedham Case"
  • A copy of Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook
  • Optional: Bell or chime
  • Optional: Computer and digital projector

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out the story and prepare to present it.
  • Write on newsprint:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead.

  • Optional: Prepare the Margaret Mead quotation as a digital slide.

Description of Activity

Read or tell the story "The Dedham Case." Invite comment and questions. Ask participants to name what the Dedham case changed-ecclesiastically, politically, and legally.

Post or project the quote from Margaret Mead, and lead the group to read it in unison. Suggest that although the members of the parish in Dedham may not have set out to "change the world," in fact, their actions had an impact far beyond their own time and place in history.

Invite participants into a time of meditation and reflection. Suggest that they find a comfortable position, and, if they wish, to close their eyes. You might use a chime to begin and end this quiet time.

Once everyone is settled, read aloud Reading 567 in Singing the Living Tradition, by Marge Piercy. Then invite participants to imagine a time when they felt joined together with others to make some small difference in the human or the natural world. Ask them to return to that time and place, to picture themselves there and recall the sights, sounds, and feelings of the moment. Slowly, pausing between each question to allow time for contemplation, ask:

  • What united you? A task, an ideal, or both?
  • How did it feel to be of use?
  • Did you feel you had done all you could?
  • Do you feel your action might have had an effect beyond the immediate moment?

Slowly and gently return the group to the present, allowing a minute or two. Invite reflections on ways the actions of a small group can have a wider effect.