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

Activity 2: Learning Empathy

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 1, When I Am Frightened, or copies of Singing the Journey (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005)
  • Optional: Musical instrument or pre-recorded music and music player
  • Optional: Costumes

Preparation for Activity

  • If your congregation has copies of Singing the Journey, you may use them instead of Handout 1, When I Am Frightened.
  • If either leader plays a musical instrument, practice playing the hymn as an accompaniment. If not, recruit a musician from the congregation or, from the group or youth. Give at least a week's notice to any volunteer. If you cannot find someone to play during the workshop, ask a musician to record the music in advance. Test your equipment before the workshop begins.
  • Optional: If the congregation has a box of costume pieces, offer them to participants.

Description of Activity

Participants learn a hymn about teaching empathy.

Pass out Handout 1, When I Am Frightened, or copies of Singing the Journey (see Hymn 1012). (This song was originally titled "Then I May Learn.") Teach the song to the group. Use musical accompaniment if available.

After singing it a few times, ask participants to read the words. Note that the word "care" is used in the song, but it could be replaced with the word 'empathy."

Ask the group if they think this is how we learn to care, give, and love. Explore the hymn further by asking for volunteers to share their stories of learning to care, give, and love. They may share verbally, or, if time permits, divide the group into three teams and invite them to act out scenarios that illustrate the three verses. The stories in the scenarios can be from their lives or fictional. Point out that no age is defined in the hymn, so the "teacher" and "pupil" could be any age. Learning happens across generations and within.

Give teams ten minutes to prepare. Offer costumes, if available.

Gather the group and let each team perform. After the presentations, invite participants to discuss the process they used to decide on their story. Was it fictional or non-fictional?

Invite each participant, co-leaders included, to name one way they would like to be supported as they learn to care, give, and love.