Faith In Action: Reaching Out in Friendship
Activity time: 60 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Lined paper or stationery; plain drawing paper; pens or pencils; and markers, color pencils, or crayons
- Envelopes and stamps
- Optional: Globe or map
- Optional: Pictures of and information about recipients
- Optional: Digital camera and printer, or photos of children and families brought from home, and scissors and glue sticks
Preparation for Activity
- Decide to whom letters and drawings will be sent-for example, a Partner Church, other Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, UUs in the military, UU youth who have "bridged" and are living away from home. Plan how you will introduce the recipients group to your participants (child and adult) in a way that is accessible for all ages.
- In consultation with the director of religious education, determine a time and location for a gathering of Chalice Children families, or for the congregation at large. Make the sure location has sufficient tables, chairs, and other work spaces so everyone will have a place to write or draw.
- Email and/or mail invitations. Publicize the event in your congregation's newsletter, on its Facebook page, etc. Optional: Invite attendees to bring pictures of themselves to the event to send with their letters and drawings.
Prepare a list of letter-writing prompts and copy it for each table. You might include:
- The name of our congregation [or, church] is . . .
- I'm writing to you because . . .
- My favorite person at our congregation [or, church] is . . . because . . .
- My favorite song to sing at congregation [or, church] is . . .
- My favorite holiday is . . . because . . .
- I believe . . .
- I care about . . .
- My favorite thing we do at our congregation [or, church] is . . .
- Set up tables and chairs for the activity, making sure to have different heights and sizes to accommodate a multi-generational and otherwise diverse group. Set out letter-writing and drawing materials at each table.
- Optional: Gather pictures of and other information about the recipients of your letters and drawings to share with the group.
- Optional: Address envelopes in advance.
Description of Activity
The theme of Unit 4 is "We make friends." Being a member of this group (and being a Unitarian Universalist) means helping to make the group a friendly place for others. Writing letters and drawing pictures to send to Unitarian Universalists outside your congregation is a way to introduce the Chalice Children to the many potential UU friends in other parts of their city, state, or country.
Besides the letter-writing activity described below, there are many other ways to implement the Unit 4 Faith in Action project. Here are additional suggestions for connecting with other UUs:
- Partner Church Program. Does your congregation have a partnership with another UU congregation? If not, is there interest in starting one across national boundaries? Partnerships are already in place throughout Europe, Africa, India, and Asia. Visit the UU Partner Church Council website to learn more.
- Military Ministry. Does your congregation have members who serve, or whose family members serve, in the military? Are you connected to one of the armed services UU military chaplains? Are there any veterans in your congregation? Learn about congregational options for military ministry and ways young children can participate; see the new Military Ministry Toolkit.
- UU Pen Pals. The UU Pen Pal activity in Session 14 of the children's Tapestry of Faith program Wonderful Welcome is designed for children in kindergarten or first grade or multigenerational groups, and can be adapted for preschoolers.
- Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard. For inspiration about a different form of collaboration and partnership, read about the children of the All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C., and the response of the Japanese children in Hiroshima in an article titled Children's Gifts Redeemed "Legacy of Devastation" (UU World, April 2009) and in the UUA International Office blog. You can also watch a film about this project.
Learn about the four-parts of a service activity (identifying, planning, executing, and reflecting) in the Tapestry of Faith program Sing to the Power. While this program is geared toward older children, you may find the structure for Faith in Action work helpful for working with younger children.
Welcome the participants. Introduce the group to whom you are reaching out in friendship.
Optional: Show where the group is located on the globe. Optional: Share the pictures and materials you've gathered.
Invite the guests and children to write letters and/or draw pictures to send to the group. Point out the materials and letter-writing prompts on each table. Encourage attendees to use the prompts as a guide but not to feel limited by these suggestions. Ask adults to help the children write a letter in addition to drawing a picture. A reader can interview a pre-reader and help them write their answers to complete the prompts.
Optional: Take and print pictures of the guests, which they can glue to their letters or pictures, or have them glue on the photos they brought from home. Distribute envelopes and have the children fold and insert their finished letters and drawings. If you have not addressed envelopes, ask for volunteers with neat handwriting to do it.
An important but often neglected aspect of a Faith in Action project is the opportunity to reflect together on the experience. With ten minutes left, ask everyone to help clean up and then gather briefly in a circle. Invite the children and families to share some thoughts about the gathering:
- Why is it important to know about other Unitarian Universalists in far-away places?
- Why is it a good idea to communicate with them?
- What did you learn about the people or group we are reaching out to?
- What do you want to know more about?
Say, in these words or your own:
Chalice Children come to [name of congregation] to make new friends, to see old friends, and to help to make our church [congregation] a friendly place for others. All kinds of people can be friends, even if they live far away from one another. Today we might have made some new friends-Unitarian Universalists who live in [another part of our city, state, country]. It will be exciting to see if we hear back from them!
Optional: Close the gathering with one of the Chalice Children songs.
Including All Participants
Provide tables and chairs that are accessible to people of all ages, sizes, and abilities, and space for those using a wheelchair or walker.