Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 1: Forgiveness in History

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut apart the names in Leader Resource 1, Truth and Reconciliation Match Ups. Put the slips of paper into a basket or box.
  • Cut apart the historical data in Leader Resource 2, Histories. Be prepared to distribute the individual case histories to volunteers for reading.

Description of Activity

Youth look at forgiveness on a large scale: nations or organizations seeking forgiveness for oppression of a group of people.

Ask for a volunteer to look up the word "forgive" in the dictionary and read the definition to the group.

Say, in your own words:

We generally offer an apology to someone when we are seeking forgiveness or a pardon. This can be done by individuals. However, sometimes groups, even nations, issue apologies for wrongs committed against an entire group of people. Sometimes the apology is a long time coming. Sometimes, it includes reparations, which are payments for an injury or a wrong.

Show the group the basket with the names from Leader Resource 1, Truth and Reconciliation Match Ups. Tell them that they are going to play a matching game. Everyone should take a slip of paper that has the name of one party of an apology. They need to find their counterpart. They will do this by asking other youth "yes and no questions" until they believe they have found their match.

Assist youth as needed. After everyone has correctly found a match, ask for volunteers to read the case histories from Leader Resource 2, Histories.

Lead a group discussion with questions such as:

  • Do you think every member of the oppressed group accepts the apologies? Why or why not?
  • How would you feel if a nation or organization issued an apology, but no reparations or other efforts to try to repair the damage?
  • How would you feel if the nation or organization offered reparation, but did not accept wrongdoing or offer an apology?
  • Why do you think the responsible parties are hesitant to accept responsibility or offer reparations?
  • Can you think of other cases where a government has addressed its previous wrongdoing?

Including All Participants

Be aware that youth who identify as a member of an oppressed group covered in the histories might be in the room. If you think this youth might find the activity difficult, delete that case history. However, do not assume that will be the case. Use your judgment, based on the experiences you have shared with the youth so far. You might also ask the youth beforehand.