Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Fact Sheets about religions
- Large sheets of construction paper, cut into strips and (optional) a circle
- Black markers
- Removable tape, such as painter's tape
- Optional: Materials to decorate construction paper, such as foil stars and glue sticks, stickers, and paints
- Optional: Writing paper, pens/pencils
- Optional: Music and a music player
Preparation for Activity
- Figure out how long to cut the strips of construction paper:
- If your chalice sits on a small, pedestal-type table, decide where to place the table so youth can connect construction paper strips to it from the floor or from nearby tables and walls. Measure the distance(s) the strips need to span; add a little extra if you want "bridges" to arch.
- Or, plan to set the chalice in the center of a large work table. Youth can make bridges to the chalice from the outer edges of the table.
- Cut strips of construction paper about 4 inches wide, at the length(s) you need. Make at least one strip for each participant.
- Set out construction paper strips, markers, tape, and any decorating materials.
- Optional: Cut out a construction paper circle on which to place the chalice, so youth can tape "bridges" to the paper instead of to the chalice.
- Optional: Choose music for five to seven minutes of reflective writing. Set up and test the music player.
Description of Activity
Youth identify ways other religions connect to their Unitarian Universalist faith.
Have volunteers help you set the chalice (on a construction paper circle, if you have made one). Explain that they will now make bridges to show ways other religions connect to ours.
Remind youth that our UU congregations are theologically diverse:
- Some Unitarian Universalists identify as UU Buddhists, UU Christians, UU Humanists, UU Jews, or UU Pagans.
- Our worship sometimes incorporates elements from other faiths. (Offer examples youth will recognize: Does your congregation mark Mexican Catholicism's Day of the Dead in October, Christmas or Solstice in December, Passover or Easter in the spring?)
- Our teachings embrace other faiths' wisdom. (Offer examples: Does your congregation sing songs from African American Christian tradition? What readings from other faiths' sacred texts, perhaps from Singing the Living Tradition, are familiar to the youth?)
- Connections can be personal. Remind youth that some Unitarian Universalists practice Buddhist meditation or find inner peace by connecting with the natural world, like Pagans and followers of Shinto and other indigenous religions.
- How does this diversity in our own faith call us to be bridge builders? How can it help us build bridges?
Invite the youth to consider more ways the religions they have explored connect to Unitarian Universalism. Say:
How about wisdom from other religions? How can it feed a Unitarian Universalist faith?
- Hinduism teaches there are many different spiritual paths.
- Christianity teaches the power of love.
- Muslims and Jews believe there is only one God.
- Atheism/Humanism says human beings are responsible for the good or evil we do.
Now give instructions:
Think of one connection, one way our faith can be nourished by another religion, write it on a strip of construction paper. You can decorate your "bridge," if you wish. Then, tape one end of the strip to the chalice (or, the construction paper circle on which the chalice now sits). Tape the other end outside the chalice area.
Have every youth make at least one bridge to the chalice. Encourage youth to refer to the Fact Sheets for ideas. If you have time, challenge the group to make a bridge for every religion they studied.
If you have decorating materials, encourage youth to decorate bridges and (optional) the construction paper circle on which the chalice sits.
When all are finished, ask everyone to look at the newsprint posted around the room and the bridges to the chalice table. Ask:
- Why is this program named Building Bridges?
Affirm that as Unitarian Universalists, we celebrate the religious impulse in humankind. We honor each person's right to seek meaning, belonging, and moral and ethical guidance in their own way. On our own journeys, we may respectfully integrate some of the religious spirit of others into our beliefs and practices.
If you have time, invite everyone, facilitators included, to take five to seven minutes to reflect on ways their knowledge about other religions deepens their Unitarian Universalist faith. Invite them to consider how belonging to a theologically diverse congregation demonstrates what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Distribute writing paper and pens/pencils and invite everyone to write their reflections. Tell them they will have a chance to share, if they choose, in the Closing. If you choose, play music while the group reflects and writes.