Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Chorus of Faiths: A Program That Builds Interfaith Youth Leaders

Activity 4: Planning the Interfaith Service Event, Part 2

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Time line or calendar (from Workshop 1)

Preparation for Activity

  • Post blank newsprint.
  • Post the program time line and/or calendar.

Description of Activity

Find out what interfaith service opportunities these particular participants are excited about and encourage them to dream big as a group about their power to change the world.


Say, in your own words:

Let's take a few minutes to dream about the interfaith service project we will do together. Given what you have learned about religious pluralism and about this community you live in, what are your hopes for interfaith service? Close your eyes and imagine this community three years from now. What do you hope it looks like? What can you do in the next few weeks or months to make it that way?

Take answers quickly, popcorn style, writing them on newsprint to create an "inspiration board."

The Event

Invite everyone to look at the ideas on the inspiration board. Together, choose several that the group agrees excite them and could be done in the time you have available, based on the calendar and/or time line created in Workshop 1. If the list does not include service events that routinely happen or are already scheduled in your community, ask if the group would like to consider working on any of these. These might include existing food bank activities such as canned food drives or serving meals to the hungry; clean up projects; collecting blankets and clothing in winter; an AIDS or CROP Walk or other events to raise money and awareness; or decorating a family homeless shelter for the holidays. Add any events co-leaders have generated in preparing for this workshop, including any you have found in the program Introduction. Tell the group they do not have to decide on an event yet, but choosing several viable options to present to your partners is wise.


Once the group has several viable event choices, guide the group to select potential partners and decide how they will be approached and by whom. Partners might be youth groups from neighboring houses of worship. Many Unitarian Universalists have had success partnering with Muslim youth, so make sure to talk to mosque members early on. When deciding who to approach, keep in mind that the more liberal religions are more likely to be initially interested. Perhaps a Baha'i, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Reform Jewish, or Episcopalian congregation would like to partner? Buddhist temples with families who have youth are good possibilities. Though it is fine to throw your net far and wide, starting off by contacting a conservative group that is not interested could be discouraging. Contact any local interfaith group early on. Even if they do not have youth involved in their organization, they could have useful contacts and provide moral (and possibly financial and publicity) support.

Encourage participants to look at their community asset maps (Handout 3) for groups that are not necessarily religious yet may have an interest in service work-for example, youth programs at a YWCA or YMCA; extracurricular clubs such as Girls, Inc., and neighborhood centers such as a Boys and Girls Club. Youth groups that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people's rights would make friendly allies, as would groups that are intentionally diverse, such as Diversity Councils in local high schools.

Decide who will contact potential partners. A team of co-leaders with a few youth would be ideal. Some contacts will want to hear from an adult; however, initiating partner relationships is a great way to build youth leadership, so strike a balance. For example, a youth might make an initial phone to set up a face-to-face visit of a youth and an adult co-leader.

Write down the decisions and action steps as the group makes them. Set deadlines. Be clear about the expectations for "point people" to report at the next and subsequent workshops. Make sure everyone has all the information they need to move forward, or make plans to get missing information.

Create a script for talking to partners. A script will help ensure point people identify themselves and tell the potential partner what they hope to achieve, why they think it is important, and ways the potential partner can participate. Write the script down and let everyone practice it. You can model by going first.