Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades


Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice, chalice cloth, and lighter or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Blank name tags and bold markers
  • Optional: Name tags participants made in Welcoming and Entering
  • Optional: Music, and music player

Preparation for Activity

  • Create a worship or centering table-a peaceful, sacred space for the chalice. Place the chalice cloth and then set the chalice/lighter on it.
  • Optional: Choose a short piece of meditative music to play.

Description of Activity

The Opening invites the group to become calm and focused in preparation for thoughtful participation in the workshop. Include these elements:

  • Chalice-lighting with a reading and/or song
  • A specific, focused check-in or sharing
  • Introduction to the workshop.

Invite participants who have made name tags in Welcoming and Entering to put them on. Gather the group in a semi-circle around the chalice.

Tell participants they will have a chance to introduce themselves in just a moment. Explain that you will begin each workshop by lighting a chalice, having a reading (and/or listening to music, if that is your plan), quietly relaxing in a period of silence, then sharing a brief, guided check-in.

Light the chalice with these words:

We light this chalice in celebration of Unitarian Universalism and the sustaining faiths of all people of the world. May the flame represent the fire of our commitment to understand all faithful people build bridges that connect us as one human family.

Play music, if you have brought a musical selection. Allow the circle to sit in silence for 15 to 20 seconds. Then say "Let us go around the circle now and have everybody introduce themselves." Invite each participant to say their name and their age or grade, and, if they have made name tags, explain what their name tag decorations mean. In what way does the name tag look like them or show what is most important to them?

Introduce the program with these words, or your own:

Our program this year is Building Bridges. It is a program to build bridges of understanding and connection among people. We will seek to build bridges among all of us who are here, among people in our congregation and our Unitarian Universalist faith, and between ourselves and people in our wider world. We undertake this in a manner that is in keeping with our shared Unitarian Universalist values: by a dedicated, respectful exploration of many of the world's religions. We will learn about many practices and beliefs. We will have opportunities to engage with other religious people: attend their worship services, meet with their religious leaders, and talk to youth about what they treasure about their religion.

The word "religion" is commonly thought to derive from the Latin word religare (ray-lih-GAR-ay), meaning to fasten, tie, or bind. In other words, religion connects. Religion can be seen as connecting people to each other, and, more profoundly, religion connects people to something beyond themselves-to the sacred, to the inexplicable, to a force of spirit people may call God, the Divine, Spirit, Mystery, Love, Oneness, or another name.


Did you know that religion is present in every human society ever documented? What else does a human society always have?

Allow participants to offer ideas. Receive all ideas respectfully; respond encouragingly to sincere ideas.

Point out that human societies in every place and time have had language, music, a social order with rules for how to live and behave, and religion. Why?

Tell them that in this workshop they will consider why every human society has religion. Say:

Today we will start exploring why human societies seem to need religion. There is no simple answer. As we look into a variety of religions in future workshops, we will keep that question close at hand.

Another way to ask "Why do all societies have religion?" is to ask "What human needs are met by religion?" About each religion we study, we will ask, "How does this religion meet human needs?"

Including All Participants

Arrange the space or seating around the chalice to accommodate all participants.