Activity time: 13 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers and tape
- Newsprint with words of James Vila Blake's covenant (see Opening)
- Optional: A copy of the Unitarian Universalist Principles
Preparation for Activity
- Post the newsprint with the Blake covenant, if it has been moved.
- Post a sheet of blank newsprint next to it.
Description of Activity
This activity explores the Blake covenant which is used throughout the program and invites participants to consider what covenant means for their group. Say, in these words or your own:
In the Noah story, God makes a covenant with all of creation that they should create more life, and God will preserve it by never causing another great flood. That idea of covenant, of an agreement, has come down to us across the centuries as a way to describe the big commitments that people make. For instance, our UU Principles begin: "We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, COVENANT to affirm and promote...
Invite children to name any of the Unitarian Universalist Principles they can remember. Start them off with "the inherent worth and dignity of every individual;" affirm contributions. Then say:
In 1894, a man named James Vila Blake created the covenant statement that we read as our chalice-lighting earlier today. He wanted his congregation, the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois, to have a way of saying why they came together, and what they were committing to do together as a faith community.
Indicate the newsprint where you have posted the Blake covenant. Ask participants to identify key words that define the purposes and commitments of this covenant statement. Then invite children to suggest words or phrases that could be part of a covenant statement for your group.
Point out that they may have gone through a process of creating classroom rules before, but a covenant statement is different. You might say:
Class rules often focus on what is forbidden, such as hitting, or interrupting. But a covenant centers on what the community is for, and what commitments the members of the community make to each other. This is a very important point and the crux of what a covenant is.
As participants make suggestions, write them on newsprint.
When the list seems complete, ask the group whether they are prepared to covenant with each other, or if there are elements of the statement they are not prepared to commit to. Adjust the statement as necessary. When you have a statement that everyone is prepared to commit to, have the group read the statement aloud together as their covenant.