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

Alternate Activity 2: Story - Jenkin Lloyd Jones and the Abraham Lincoln Center

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story and prepare to present it effectively.
  • Optional: Review the Workshop 1 story "A Chorus of Faith," which also mentions Jenkin Lloyd Jones.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.

Description of Activity

Participants hear a real story of a Unitarian in history, and consider tensions between doing interfaith work and being committed to one's own faith.

Tell or read the story. Or, distribute copies and have volunteers read aloud, taking turns at each sentence or paragraph. Remind the group that anyone has the right to pass. After the story, point out that Jones was also involved in the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Note that this story shows how Jones continued his interfaith work into the twentieth century.

Lead a discussion, with these questions:

  • What were the advantages of Jones creating the Abraham Lincoln Center as a nonsectarian institution? What were the disadvantages?
  • How do you feel about Jones disassociating his church from its original Unitarian identity and founding the Abraham Lincoln Center as a nonsectarian institution? How, if at all, were the church and the Abraham Lincoln Center different from what you think of as Unitarian Universalist institutions?
  • Using lenses of antiracism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism, how might you critique the conflict between the Boston Unitarians and those in the West during the time of Jones? How are things today different? The same?
  • Could Jones have kept a Unitarian Identity and done the same work? How?
  • Why might your Unitarian Universalist identity be important as you do interfaith service work? How might it be helpful? How might it be limiting?