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

Activity 3: The UU Principles

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Handout 3 for all participants. Set the copies aside, face down.
  • Write one Principle in large lettering on each of seven sheets of newsprint, and set aside.
  • Identify places to hang the seven sheets of newsprint so that more than one person can write on each sheet at the same time.
  • Post blank newsprint.
  • Optional: Review the Nicene Creed.

Description of Activity

Participants discuss the seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism.

Read the beginning of the statement of the Principles: "We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association covenant to affirm and promote... " Ask the youth what that phrase means. Explain that while the Principles are written as a covenant between individual congregations and the UUA, many Unitarian Universalist see them as guidelines for living.

Ask participants to name the seven Principles. Paraphrasing is allowed. Write their answers on newsprint. Acknowledge how many the group can recall.

Distribute Handout 3 and review the Principles. Share that many UUs, including adults, cannot name all seven. Ask the youth why they think this is so.

Point out that in many religions, people are asked to memorize the most important beliefs or understandings. Examples from Christianity include The Lord's Prayer and the Nicene Creed, a statement of faith used in both Catholic and Protestant churches. Ask:

  • Is there value in requiring some things to be memorized? What would be the benefit?
  • Would it strengthen Unitarian Universalism if all UUs knew the seven Principles by heart?

Continue discussion by asking youth whether they feel they live the Principles:

  • Do you believe in all the Principles?
  • Which ones are you living most fully? Which do you pay little or no attention to?
  • Is there a relationship between the ones you remembered and the ones you live?
  • Can we live them if we do not know what they are?

In Their Lives

Post the seven newsprint sheets with one Principle on each. Invite the youth go to each sheet, in any order, and write ways that Principle is expressed or could be expressed in their lives.

When participants are finished, invite them to share their ideas.

Then, ask:

  • Do most UUs agree with the values expressed in the Principles?
  • Do UUs agree about whether or not there is a God?
  • Do UUs agree on what happens after you die?

Point out that most of the religions they will explore have shared beliefs on theological issues such as these. UUs do not. Ask, "What keeps us together?" If youth say it is a common set of values to guide us through life, affirm this answer.

Ask, "Have those beliefs been the same since the beginning of Universalism and Unitarianism?" Point out: UUs believe our beliefs and faith change as we grow, and that is a good thing.