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

Activity 1: Story - Lydia Maria Child, Voice for the Oppressed

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you will be comfortable presenting it.

Description of Activity

Participants hear and discuss the inspiring story of a 19th-century Unitarian, Lydia Maria Child.

Ask participants if they have ever heard of Lydia Maria Child. Ask if they have ever heard the song "Over the River and Through the Woods." Did they know the writer was a Unitarian?

Tell or read the story.

Ask the group if they can name some of the groups Child advocated for that were named in the story. (African Americans, women, children, Native Americans) Do they see any connection among these groups?

Continue the discussion, along the following lines:

  • Child lost money (book sales and jobs) and popularity in some circles by choosing to advocate for African Americans. Why did she make this choice? What Unitarian values did she draw on?
  • Is working toward a more just world a UU value? How do you know (for example, from the message in our worship and sermons, from stories told in RE, from marches and campaigns our congregation has done)?
  • How does it make you feel when you hear about Unitarians, Universalists, or Unitarian Universalists who do good works in the world?
  • Have you ever taken an unpopular stand because you felt it was the just thing to do? Did your faith help you take this stand? If so, in what way?

Conclude that Lydia Maria Child was an active force for justice at a critical time in American history. Her passion lives on in the activism of Unitarian Universalists today.


Share the two quotations that begin this workshop and ask how they apply to Lydia Maria Child's life and faith.