Activity 4: Ritual of Public Witness
Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Items from recent congregational public witness events
- Art supplies and (optional) video camera and playback equipment
Preparation for Activity
- Gather and display items such as flyers, banners, photos/videos, and newspaper coverage from congregational public witness activities. Good sources will be your religious educator, minister, administrative staff or volunteers, or Justice or Social Action Committee members.
- Plan how you will explain the context and purpose of the witness event(s) represented, in an age-appropriate way.
- If the children will make materials for an actual congregational public witness event, plan how you will explain the issue or cause. Prepare to tell the group how their public witness will promote justice and thereby express their UU faith. Review the Faith in Action activity and Alternate Activities 1, 2, and 3. Work with your Justice or Social Action Committee or other appropriate leaders to connect this activity with witness experience the children will actually do. You may wish to invite lay leaders to this session to discuss a planned public witness and guide the children to create useful materials.
- Choose and gather media for children to use in the second part of this activity. You might have children make posters or flyers, or videotape themselves. If they will clean a banner, gather appropriate supplies. Note: If you plan to videotape children, talk to the religious educator and families about where the video will be shown and create and distribute a release form, if needed.
Description of Activity
Children explore items used by the congregation in public witness and create their own materials to support a public witness event.
Show the children the items you have gathered from congregational public witness. Explain the context and purpose of the witness events. Engage children to identify familiar people and places in photos and to share their experiences with the issue or cause being witnessed.
Now invite the children to help prepare for a new public witness event-one you have already selected for them to do, or one that will support a cause the children chose by consensus in the previous activity.
- If your congregation is involved in a justice campaign, children can support this work by creating posters or flyers. If the issue is one they understand and have an opinion about, you might film them making short witnessing statements. For example, if the congregation works for marriage equality, videotape children making short statements about why they think everyone should be allowed to marry the person they love.
- Support the public witness of the congregation's Justice Committee by making decorations for a justice table. Children can use fabric crayons and markers to colorfully decorate a table cloth and make attractive signage for a table displaying justice material. At the end of the session, they could stand by the table, helping to disperse flyers and pamphlets for the justice activities that interest them the most.
- Does your congregation carry a banner at marches and rallies? Children can help take care of it with repairs or cleaning. They could take photos of themselves with the banner to display in your meeting space or publish in a congregational newsletter. They could videotape themselves behind the banner saying justice statements ("Public witnessing for justice is a sign of our UU faith.") or saying the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles.
While the children work, talk about multiple ways to witness: speaking in public, making and holding signs, creating and passing out flyers, sharing or making a video, music, speaking up when you see a wrong, siding with someone who needs help. If children did not have enough time in Activity 1 to talk about their experience with public witness, continue that conversation.