Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families


Part of Families

. . . the story of a man who saw three fellows laying bricks at a new building:
He approached the first and asked, "What are you doing?"
Clearly irritated, the first man responded, "What the heck do you think I'm doing? I'm laying these darn bricks!"
He then walked over to the second bricklayer and asked the same question.
The second fellow responded, "Oh, I'm making a living."
He approached the third bricklayer with the same question, "What are you doing?"
The third looked up, smiled and said, "I'm building a cathedral."
At the end of the day, who feels better about how he's spent his last eight hours?

- Joan Borysenko

In this session, participants learn about ways of gathering information and narratives from others. They explore the value of learning from our stories and the ethics of representing them.

This is the first session after the first Family Event. You will need prints of the family photographs to use in the session. By this session, you should have decided if you will host a Family Event 2 or if youth will need to contact the families they photographed individually. Either way, the second contact with families will be used to gather narrative in the form of an interview and/or a "write-back." Both of these methods are explained in the activities of this session. Second contact with the families gives youth more time to establish a relationship with them. For this reason, we strongly suggest that you host Family Event 2 at your congregation. It will make the second meeting easier for all involved and provide the greatest amount of safety and control over the experience.


Participants will:

  • Value each individual's unique perspective as an interpreter of our world and as a teller of our stories
  • Develop the ethics of care and responsibility through the intimate and ethical process of representing others in photography and narrative
  • Focus literally and figuratively on the faces and narratives of congregation members
  • Grow and deepen their naturally compassionate souls
  • Learn how the fundamentals of photography—that we see the world through our individual lens and from unique angles—translate to our way of interpreting the world more generally
  • Experience the roles of photographer/artist and storyteller—visual and/or text—within a faith community

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Appreciate photography as an interpretive medium
  • Explore the role of author in storytelling
  • Learn about closed- and open-ended inquiry
  • Practice recording life information, including stories
  • Appreciate the ability to translate experience into simple poetry
  • Appreciate more deeply that families can only be understood from the interpreter's perspective; there is no objective perspective