Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Pads of sticky notes and pens/pencils
- Poster board
Description of Activity
Participants observe the diversity of religious symbols and imagery in their congregation.
Say, in your own words:
We are surrounded by people of faith and Unitarian Universalist congregations are largely made up of people from other faith traditions, or no faith tradition. We do not require people to reject their prior faith in order to join ours. In fact, we celebrate and welcome this diversity. Many people wear visible signs of their faith: Sikh turbans, Jewish yarmulkes, Christian crosses, the Yin/Yang, our own flaming chalice, and many more. Sometimes these are only decorative, but more often they represent a connection with a faith from which they draw strength. Take notice of these talismans of faith. Appreciate the faith identities and the devotion that may be indicated by their display.
Invite participants to venture into the congregation now and look for signs of faith. Instruct youth to write on a sticky note any object or symbol they see-for example, a cross, a chalice, a yin/yang symbol, a Buddhist wheel, a crescent and star-and the faith it is associated with, if they know what that is. Suggest they pay attention to items or garments people are wearing which might be signs of faith. Remind them to note posters and artwork on the walls, and printed material, too. Remind them they are part of a community, so they have a responsibility to be quiet and respectful during this time.
Tell everyone when you want them to return to the meeting space.
When all have returned, invite participants to put their sticky notes on the poster board, creating groupings. Then, look at the poster together and discuss the findings. Ask questions like:
- What faiths were most represented?
- What faiths were least represented?
- How many faiths were represented?
- What objects or symbols did you observe which you thought could be signs of faith, but you were not sure what faith?
- What faiths were not represented at all? Why do you suppose that is? (Note that some faith talismans may be worn out of plain sight; some faith symbols are less noticeable or recognizable as such; some faiths may not have symbols that can be worn; some faiths are not represented in our congregation.)
- Which signs of faith did you notice quickly?
- How did it feel to you, to find visible representations of faith in your congregation? What does the variety of symbols you found tell you about our congregation? About Unitarian Universalism?
Ask participants, as they go about their daily lives, to keep noticing the different faiths they see demonstrated in people's clothing, jewelry, or even body art, such as tattoos. Invite them, too, to look for signs of faith displayed in places; for example, how many houses of worship will they see as they travel home from your meeting today? Which faiths are represented? Invite them to recognize that these houses of worship are sacred gathering places where people come together to seek answers to some of their most important questions about life and its meaning.