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

Alternate Activity 1: Chalice, Chalice, Burning Bright

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print Leader Resource 2, UUA Chalice Symbol.
  • Gather images of flaming chalices. You can find many on the UUA website. If your congregation uses a particular symbol, include it.

Description of Activity

Participants locate symbols of Unitarian Universalism in their congregational home.


The flaming chalice's history as a symbol of Unitarianism, and subsequently Unitarian Universalism, goes back to World War II. Austrian artist Hans Deutsch worked with the Unitarian Service Committee, and created the flaming chalice as a symbol of the Unitarian Service Committee (USC, now called UUSC) by joining existing symbols of the chalice and the flame. To Deutsch, the new symbol meant sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists attribute many meanings to the flaming chalice: the search for truth, the power emerging from community, the burning passion of commitment, and many more.

Show the group the UUA Flaming Chalice (Leader Resource 2). Say:

The official flaming chalice symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Association was recently changed. The flame was centered and the radiating lines were added to represent a dynamic, modern faith. The UUA is happy for congregations and individuals to use the Association's flaming chalice logo, but we are not required to use this specific one. Individuals and congregations typically use the chalice they find most beautiful or that they feel best represents their faith.

Ask if participants have seen chalices or images of chalices in the congregation. On bookcases or tables? Displayed outside, or on walls? On orders of service? As pins, necklaces, rings, or earrings? Form small groups so a facilitator will accompany all participants, and invite the youth to explore the building and grounds to see what chalices they find- how many, where they are, and what they look like. Remind them of their responsibility to the congregational community to be respectful (quiet, staying together) and tell them when to return.

When all have returned, ask the youth to share their findings. How many chalices and chalice images did they see? What variety?

If the congregation has chalice art it always uses, display it now. Did participants find this chalice symbol during their search? If you know who designed the symbol the congregation uses, tell participants about the artist. Continue discussion with questions such as:

  • What purposes are served by having chalices and chalice images around?
  • How do the chalices make people feel?
  • What do they make people think about? Anything?
  • Do you have any chalices at home? Do you own any chalice jewelry or clothing? Why or why not?
  • Does the chalice image inspire a feeling of pride in you? Does it affirm your feeling of connection to Unitarian Universalists everywhere?

Observe the workshop space: One chalice is used in the workshop. Are there other chalices or chalice images? Would the group like for there to be more? Would it feel good to have additional reminders of their connection to the larger whole?

Including All Participants

If your congregation's site is not fully accessible, assign each small group to a specific area and send youth with mobility limitations to an area they can fully explore.

Give a youth with vision impairment a partner who can guide them to tactile representations of chalice art, and encourage the pair to observe chalice shape and design with their fingers. You may wish to scout the congregational space before this activity. Look for three-dimensional chalice art, actual chalices, and stationery or business cards that have an embossed chalice symbol.