Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Windows and Mirrors: A Program about Diversity for Grades 4-5

Faith In Action: Congregational Faith Family Tree

Materials for Activity

  • Notebooks and pencils
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Congregational information such as newsletters, flyers, website pages, orders of service
  • Appropriate arts and crafts materials, including copies of Handout 1, Faith Symbols

Preparation for Activity

  • Gather information about worship and other activities which children can examine for evidence of different faith and denominational traditions and beliefs represented in your worship and other congregational activities.
  • With your director of religious education and/or minister, plan a time for participants to interview members about the faith and denominational traditions and beliefs they bring to your congregation.
  • Arrange for a time for participants to assemble a three-dimensional "faith family tree." Obtain the arts and crafts supplies you will need and invite any volunteers with special skills.
  • Arrange a place in your congregation for the display of the faith family tree. You may wish to coordinate this with an exhibit of participants' Window/Mirror Panels.

Description of Activity

Participants build a three-dimensional "family tree," representing the faith and belief traditions in your congregation, in a design and medium of the group's choice. You will need at least three meeting times to:

1. Assign research roles (can be brief).

2. Conduct research.

3. Build the congregational faith family tree.

Even if you think you know all the faith and belief traditions members bring to your congregation, an essential part of this Faith in Action activity is to dispatch participants to look for diversities which may not be obvious. All participants should help in "appreciative inquiry," even if they simply ask their parents about the faith and belief traditions they bring to their practice of Unitarian Universalism. You may wish to assign some children to survey members at a coffee hour and allow others to observe worship services or tour the facility to read posted flyers and analyze art, architecture, etc. for the faith traditions represented.

Offer the group or lead a discussion to develop a concept for a three-dimensional, Congregational Faith Family Tree. How can participants represent what they have learned about religious diversity among congregational members? Make Handout 1, Faith Symbols, available. Other items for the tree might include photographs of congregational celebrations, flyers or cut-outs from flyers for events marking different faith traditions, or "I believe... " statements written on index cards in different handwriting.


Engage congregational members to co-create the Congregational Faith Family Tree. To introduce the project, ask the children to brainstorm the many religious traditions represented in their Unitarian Universalist congregation. Point out that there may be additional faith traditions and beliefs, too. Say:

Let's celebrate our religious diversity by asking members of the congregation to add to our Faith Family Tree.

Guide the children to:

1. Make a Congregational Faith Family Tree structure or two-dimensional poster for display in a well-traveled place in your congregational facility where it can remain for several weeks.

2. Announce to the congregation (newsletter, worship announcements, etc.) that members are invited to represent themselves on the tree. The announcement and the display itself should clearly indicate what members may do-for example, "Take one of the blank tree leaves provided, list your religious background, your current faith orientation, or a particular Unitarian Universalist Source that is important to you and affix the leaf to the Faith Family Tree."

Once the congregation has had time to interact with the Faith Family Tree, make time for the group-or perhaps a wider, multigenerational group-to respond to the evidence of religious diversity that has been gathered. Encourage sharing about the various faith traditions and how they appear, or do not appear, in congregational worship and other activities. You may find Alternate Activity 1, Listening Activity - Supporting Theological Diversity, useful for such a meeting.