Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Creating Home: A Program on Developing a Sense of Home Grounded in Faith for Grades K-1

Activity 3: Meet Your Unitarian Universalist Ancestors

Part of Creating Home

Activity time: 12 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Fill three empty boxes, such as shoeboxes, with items to represent the legacies of Charles Dickens, Hajom Kissor Singh, and Susan B. Anthony. Unitarian Universalist Ancestor Boxes provide pictures of all three, along with images of related items that reflect their legacies. Cover the boxes.
  • Optional: Enhance the contents of each box with additional items, as suggested in Unitarian Universalist Ancestor Boxes.
  • Optional: If you wish, make additional ancestor boxes to recall other Unitarian Universalists from the past. Include items that will help you explain their legacies to the group.

Description of Activity

Children will learn about some famous Unitarian Universalists and come to understand these individuals as their own faith ancestors.

Say, in your own words:

People don't have to be related to each other or live with each other to give or receive a legacy. People leave legacies to those who come after them because they love them. We know that you don't have to be related to love someone or consider them family.

Sometimes people don't even realize they are leaving a legacy. Maybe someone from long ago just tried to live a good life and help other people. When we learn about someone like that, we might feel inspired by their life. Their legacy is that we want to try to live our lives the same way. Do you know any people who tried to live a good life and thereby set an example for us?

Let the children give answers. If needed, prompt with people such as Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mahatma Ghandi; Mother Theresa; Moses; Muhammad; Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman.

Tell the group:

When someone has led a life that inspires people, we frequently honor their memory. We might have a holiday just for thinking about that person and their legacy, like we do for Martin Luther King. Your parents or teachers might sometimes repeat that person's words. You might see a poster with that person's picture and some of their words, or even a movie about them.

Unitarian Universalists are very fond of talking about famous Unitarians and Universalists from a long time ago. These are our Unitarian Universalist faith ancestors. They may not be related to us like someone in our family. But, we are connected to them by our common faith. They are our ancestors because they lived before us. The good things they did during their lives are a legacy that we get to share.

Show the children the three legacy boxes you have made. Say, in your own words:

Here on the table are three legacy boxes. Inside each one you will find some things to remind us of a legacy from one of our Unitarian Universalist ancestors.

Invite each child to go to each box, lift one edge of its cover, and peek inside. Ask the children not to totally uncover the box, so everyone else has a chance to peek inside. After every child has had a turn, open one box at a time. Show everyone its contents and ask the children to describe what they see.

The boxes are:

  • Box #1: An image of Charles Dickens, a copy of A Christmas Carol and the movie Oliver!
  • Box #2: An image of Hajom Kissor Singh, a map of India, a picture of a church-like building
  • Box #3: An image of Susan B. Anthony, a Susan B. Anthony dollar, a facsimile of a voting ballot

Tell the group, in these words or your own, about each of these Unitarian Universalist ancestors and their legacies:

Charles Dickens was a writer whose legacy included great stories, many of which have been made into plays and movies. People learned from his stories about how hard life can be for children who are poor. His stories inspired many people to take action to help others.

Hajom Kissor Singh came to his Unitarian faith on his own, before he learned that others shared his beliefs. He founded Unitarian congregations in India. He helped spread our faith in a country that now has more than 30,000 Unitarian Universalists.

Susan B. Anthony worked very hard to tell people why men and women should be allowed to do the same things. In her lifetime, women were not allowed to vote, and she believed this was not fair. Because of her work, our country changed its law so both men and women could vote.

What great legacies these Unitarians left behind. Because we are Unitarian Universalists, these people are our faith ancestors. We honor them by remembering them, telling their stories, and trying to live lives that help other people, as they did. We try to put our Unitarian Universalist values into practice.