Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story, "Judith Sargent Murray: Turn Around"
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story several times so you are comfortable telling it to the group.
- Review the discussion questions and choose those that will best help the children share their interpretations of the story and relate it to their own lives.
- Optional: Gather background information about Judith Sargent Murray. See this session's Introduction and resources provided under Find Out More.
Description of Activity
Read or tell the group the story.
After the story, invite the group to be silent for a moment to think about the story.
Begin a discussion by asking the children to recap the story in their own words. What they recall indicates what they found most meaningful or memorable. If you wish, provide some background information you have learned about Judith Sargent Murray. Sum up the recap with words such as these:
This story reveals the experience of many early Universalists who were, in many ways, forging a new path. Their theology of a loving and forgiving God was quite different from what was taught in most churches of the time. So, they had to start from scratch when to create materials for teaching children in Sunday school. They had to break away from how things were done before, to create a new heritage of love which has now been passed down to us.
Lead a discussion using these questions:
- What does the word "heritage" mean to you?
- How is this spirit of love alive in our Unitarian Universalist congregations today?
- Does anyone know what salvation is? (Affirm appropriate answers: your soul going to Heaven; your soul achieving grace. A contemporary Unitarian Universalist understanding of salvation is a feeling of being saved from something you need to be saved from, such as guilt, or fear.) How did Universalists think differently about salvation than the predominant Christian religion of the time? (Universalists believed in universal salvation or that everyone would be saved whereas Calvinism taught that only a select few, designated by God, would be saved by God's grace).
- What is meant by "catechism?" (Affirm or explain: a summary of religious doctrine traditionally used in Christian religious teaching based on Christian scripture. A catechism takes the form of questions and answers to teach the "right" answers.)
- How can we take this heritage of love and build on it for the children in the younger religious education groups, who will someday sit where we are sitting now? How would you teach them?