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

Faith In Action: Exploring Your Congregation's History - Long-Term Project

Preparation for Activity

  • Seek help to identify sources of historical information about your congregation.
  • Plan how you will engage participants to gather, analyze, and present historical information about your congregation across several group meetings. This Faith in Action activity is designed to continue through Workshops 10 and 11.

Description of Activity

Search for the Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist origins of your congregation. All Unitarian Universalist congregations, regardless of their age, have a history. One aspect of that history is the original theological and institutional identity of the faith community-Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist. This initial identity may be well known and celebrated, or it may be obscured by many layers of changes, or lost in the fogs of time. Even if the founding religion appears to be well established, there is likely some story about the congregation's affiliation that is less well known.

Here are some places to seek clues to your congregation's history:

  • Archives. Look for published and unpublished congregational histories, biographies of your congregation's ministers and lay leaders, sermons, newsletters, and pamphlets.
  • Historic photographs of present and past meeting places. Examine signs, symbols, and decorations.
  • Oral histories. Find, or create them; you may want to interview a long-time member for their recollections.
  • Published histories of Unitarianism, Universalism, and the Fellowship Movement, and works about the history of religion in America or the history of your community or geographical region.

Divide tasks so all can take part in the reconnaissance. Then, come together to share your findings and discuss:

  • What of your origins can you still discern in your congregation's culture, surroundings, and identity?
  • How have your congregation's roots formed your contemporary congregational culture?

Offer your discoveries to the congregation through a newsletter column, a page on the website, a homily, or a dramatic skit at a special event.