Hospitality ... is the stance of the heart that is abandoned to Love. —Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt
IN TODAY'S SESSION...
We shared a story in which Middle Eastern folk hero, Nasruddin, was unwelcome at a feast when wearing dirty, ragged clothes. When he changed into his finest clothes, he was greeted warmly. Nasruddin proceeded to feed his coat, making the point that it was his clothing which had been welcomed and not himself. We played a game in which participants enacted both unwelcoming and welcoming behaviors. The children learned that Unitarian Universalists believe all people are important, which means everybody is welcome at our congregation, without prejudgments. Finally, we enjoyed a welcome table feast.
We began a long-term Faith in Action project today that involves raising awareness about local hunger. The children made "Welcome" signs for a local food pantry, and we will begin a congregation-wide food drive next time we meet. Please consider taking your child grocery shopping with you, and selecting together some healthy non-perishable items to donate.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TALK ABOUT...
Inclusion and exclusion are very real issues for elementary school children. Talk with your child about times when they have felt excluded. Share some of your own experiences of feeling unwelcome or judged. Talk with your child about how you handled those situations.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TRY...
As a family, volunteer to serve as greeters at congregational worship. Talk ahead of time about ways to be especially welcoming to newcomers, such as wearing nametags, providing information about the congregation and Unitarian Universalism, inviting newcomers to coffee hour, or introducing them to the minister, director of religious education, or other members. Invite your child to take on responsibility for helping any visiting children to feel welcome; suggest specific behaviors your child can do, to be welcoming.
A FAMILY RITUAL
Many families around the world living in poverty are not "welcome at the table." Consider participating in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's yearly "Guest at Your Table project." If your congregation does not already participate in this effort, encourage your director of religious education, your minister, or members of your social action committee to learn about it.
Place the Guest at Your Table box on your dinner table. When your family is gathered for dinner, think about the people in the world who do not have enough to eat and put money in the box. Return the box with your collected money to the congregation, at the appropriate time. Consider keeping a box on your table year-round. Periodically empty it and donate the money to a local or international agency that works to end hunger, such as the UUSC or Oxfam.
Exclusionary, unwelcoming behaviors are often based on prejudgments stemming from prejudice and stereotypes. Read books to your child that promote diversity appreciation. Many media images and books continue to perpetuate negative (or even positive) stereotypes. When you see such images, name them for your child.
Recommended picture books:
- Don't Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin & Allen Shamblin
- Black is brown is tan by Arnold Adoff
- All Families are Special by Norma Simon
- And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- Publications that promote anti-bias education:
- Once Upon a Time: Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying by Elisa Davy Pearmain; especially the diversity appreciation chapter
- How to Tell the Difference: A Guide to Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Beverly Slapin, Doris Seale and Rosemary Gonzales